Boontarika Sripom

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Name: Boontarika Sripom, MA (Clinical Psychology)

Title: Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern

School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

How did you hear about Outreach? I heard of Outreach through an agency fair at my school. I was a student looking for a practicum placement, and I wanted to continue my work with children

What are some other roles you play in life you would like to share? I am a lifelong learner, artist, and geek. I hope to encourage creative exploration with others, and reduce stigma related to being an artist. My website is: www.organizedmesses.com. I write and speak about topics related to creativity and geek culture.

What led you to your decision to be a school counselor with us? I decision was primarily made by my connection with Nadine. She has a powerful presence, and it is something I look for in a supervisor. I also chose to work with Outreach because of the breadth of experience being a school counselor offers. It is an opportunity to apply developmental psychology, art interventions, behaviorist strategies, and family system conceptualization into each case I work with. Working at a school site is a challenge that forces one to step up his or her professional skills, and researching abilities. I was looking for a chance to encourage youth and families to believe in the power of education. I truly believe potential is catalyzed through a successful learning environment, and that a community’s role is to raise its children to that potential.

What are some key elements needed while working with children and adolescents in this role? When working with younger children, I think it is important to focus more on coaching behaviors which must be positively validated immediately. Having the warmth and patience to coach parents on interventions is also important. In order to have parents buy-in, a successful counselor must ally oneself with them. This involves effort, informed communication, and making parents accountable. This role requires constant communication with a large team of professionals. A school counselor intern is more successful when he or she is able to work well and update information with the entire team, which can include: principal, teacher, parents, staff, and regional supervisor. At a school site, there will be times when one must refer out. Knowing the appropriate community resources to refer to is recommended. Consulting with one’s supervisor and school personnel is needed to promote cohesion.

How do you identify change in clients? When students start catching themselves in session, or run to you across the playground to tell you they “practiced what we talked about”, I see change. When parents smile at me after school to thank me for their help, I know there is change. When I come to observe in the classroom, and the teacher tells me, “She’s been really well-behaved all week,” I can see change. It involves behavior, and feedback from adults in the student’s lives. We get this feedback through constant positive communication.

How can this practicum/internship experience help you in your future work in the mental health field? This internship will help me with the following: case management, handling large caseloads and paperwork, submitting monthly statistics, individual and group counseling experience, learning how to communicate with a large team while maintaining confidentiality, child abuse reporting and consulting with CPS, family systems conceptualization by working with parents and the school system, public speaking skills, working with diverse populations and presenting problems ranging from study skills to self-harm. Heavier cases involve more consultation and case conceptualization to supervisors. Referring out and supporting clients with community resources is also part of this role. This role will help those who want to work with families, parents, children, the foster system, etc.

What words of wisdom can you share with future candidates of Outreach Concern? Be authentic with yourself, and use your individual talents to connect with the children, staff, and families of your school. You have something that is unique that will change the lives of so many people.

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