Name: Maeve A Hastings
Internship Site: Association House of Chicago
What were your duties during the internship?
I worked as a Rehabilitation Services Associate (RSA) at a Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) program. Every day I would work closely with adults with serious mental illness (SMI) with groups focused on independent living, medication and symptom management, building interpersonal relationships, and other areas with the focus of helping the participants gain independence and eventually live on their own. My personal responsibilities included co-administration of group therapy, the completion of case notes, and serving breakfast each day for the participants. Primarily, when I would be administering groups on my own at the end of my internship, I would use art therapy techniques in order to help my participants communicate their symptoms and feelings where it might have otherwise been difficult to vocalize.
What did you learn during your internship?
I really learned a lot about presentations of schizophrenia, as the majority of the participants in the program were individuals with schizophrenia. I also learned more about PSR programs as a whole and was able to see firsthand what psychosocial rehabilitation is able to do for social skills building and independence fostering. I also learned how some individuals with SMIs can learn to live independent lives, working with their illnesses instead of against it.
How did the work connect to your education at Saint Mary’s?
My experience this summer was a part of the internship requirement in the psychology major, and as such, I am incorporating what I learned into my senior psychology capstone, which will be presented on Dec. 3 at the Psychology Symposium. I was also able to utilize a lot of the classes I’d taken for my major, including Clinical and Counseling, Learning and Cognition, and a class I had taken outside of my major, which was Introduction to Arts and Healing. These classes helped me utilize skills in order to properly serve the population I was interacting with on a daily basis. Some of my participants had been in the program for over a decade, and they were very interested to hear the more scientific side of psychology, helping them further understand their disorders. So, being able to utilize and teach, at a very basic level, the skills I’d learned in my classes was very helpful.
How will this experience help you after you graduate from Saint Mary’s?
Something invaluable I learned was how the clinical field of psychology can function. I learned skills that will put me a step above my peers in graduate programs and will set me up to succeed when I do my clinical internships at the end of my graduate career. I also made a lot of networking connections within the field, which will be invaluable after I finish my education. It also allowed me firsthand experience with individuals with SMIs, which I was fortunate to have as an undergraduate student. I think that if a student has a chance, even if it isn’t required, they should complete an internship in the field they hope to enter.