My journey at the Salem Center for Therapy Training & Research was truly a miracle. I was completely shocked when this opportunity came my way, because interning at this facility was an academic goal that I thought would be unachievable. The Salem Center was an excellent path that prepared me for future challenges that I encountered within the counseling field.
The center was recommended to me by my previous clinical supervisor from my practicum. When I was invited for an interview at the Salem Center, I was unfamiliar with the site, and had no idea what to expect. I was intimidated to meet Marjorie Robert and Evan Longin because of how experienced they both were. I remember thinking to myself, “How am I going to fit in?”.
Getting this prestigious internship led me to develop a mindset where I believed this job could interfere with my culture, and create a barrier between me and my traditions. My life has always been full of discovery since I left Africa, and the Salem Center has positively contributed to this journey of discovery.
Like many people, the fear of the unknown is what I struggle with; the first day I was introduced to the reflecting team my fear continued to grow. I ended up going blank and did not know what to say. This left me to question who I was as a student because my fear could stop me from learning and growing professionally. Later that day I decided that I was going to give it a try. Although I was fearful to be part of the sessions, I kept asking myself, “What was I going to contribute to the team? And how will the client react to my opinions?” I enjoyed the Salem Center’s atmosphere because my supervisor started by introducing me to the clients, and explained to them a little bit of my background, including how I’m in fluent in French.
Being an intern at the Salem Center for two semesters helped me diminish my fears and develop confidence professionally. It has also played a role in the person I am today. I observed my supervisors through various sessions, and was constantly ready to learn and develop skills that would benefit the reflecting team process. As I sat back and slowly learned how to become an active team member of the reflecting team, I became more fascinated about the counseling field.
Reflecting team has taught me a lot, challenged me, and helped me create a new mindset of who I am. I learned how to become a good listener in life, along with developing the skills of an outsider and insider at the same time. I learned through the model how to give the client power and work as collaborator.
Through the reflecting team, I developed a great sense of team work, including what to do during difficult client interactions. The reflecting team changed my perspective of therapy to incorporating single voice to multiplex voices and less directives. The reflecting team is a wonderful method for family therapy; but as everything involves, it must evolve too and expand to other categories within the counseling field.
Virginie Kamuene is a graduate student at Antioch New England University. She is currently completing her last semester towards a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In addition to that she is also pursuing a continuing graduate certification program in Autism Behavior Intervention at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Virginie is currently working at the Children’s and Friend Family Services division of JRI as a family partner in Lawrence MA.