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What is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor Intern?

The Short Version

A clinical mental health counselor is a student who is in their last year of graduate school actively seeing clients while under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor.

Internship Year - First Semester

The Internship year is comprised of two semesters. This post is a summary of my experience, which was from August 2023 to December 2023. 

My experience of the first semester of my Internship Year included three courses:

COUN 549 – Foundations of Addictions Counseling

The official description taken from the course catalog is that the course provides counselors in training with an overview of the addictive process and the practice of addiction counseling. Models and theories of addiction along with professional issues in addiction counseling, co-occuring disorders, such as process addictions will be addressed. Students will demonstrate conceptual knowledge, practical skills, and self-awareness concerning the etiology of addiction and its impact across the life-span, including criminology, neurological and societal implications. Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of addictions with diversity and advocacy issues also being explored.

My experience during the Foundations of Addictions Counseling course allowed me to learn about more addictions and how they impact the individual and those close to them. Addiction is not just a concept or diagnosis. Counselors can meet the clients where they are at with compassion.

COUN 554 – Counseling Modalities for Clinical Mental Health

The official description taken from the course catalog is that the course focuses on applying the skills, interventions and modalities learned in the counseling courses to the Clinical Mental Health setting. Emphasis will be on learning to use evidence-based practices, working with clients with co-occuring diagnoses, and collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams.

My experience in the  Counseling Modalities for Clinical Mental Health course allowed me to practice and enhance my skills with various modalities, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI). There was an opportunity to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of each modality.

COUN 585 – Internship I Clinical Mental Health

The official description from the course catalog is that students will utilize knowledge and skills gained in coursework and the practicum experience in a supervised counseling setting. Students will receive supervision, increase knowledge of the profession, increase skill base, and continue the process of self-exploration, and self-awareness.

The Internship I Clinical Mental Health course helped me gain additional experience counseling clients through telehealth. The course required at least 120 direct hours and 180 indirect hours. I was supervised by a Licensed Professional Counselor whom I met with on a weekly basis. The course also met with a professor once a week to work  collaboratively. This course has been invaluable to gaining the confidence and skills needed to be an effective counselor.

Gottman Methods Couples Therapy

This semester, I completed the Level 1 Gottman Methods Couples Therapy training.

Gottman Training was not required by the college, but I understand the value of having additional skills that can benefit clients.  I took the initiative to sign up for the course and complete the training through the Gottman Institute. 

This method focuses on increasing friendship, conflict management, and trust in relationships.

What is Next?

The second semester of Internship Semester will be from January 2024 to May 2024. The courses during that period include Internship II, Grief and Loss, and Research.

I will graduate with a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s Degree at the end of this semester!