Name: Jessica Moreno
Title: M.A., Clinical Psychology, Azusa Pacific University (Student) B.A., Psychology, California State University, Long Beach MFT Trainee
School: Azusa Pacific University
How did you hear about Outreach? I first heard about Outreach Concern while attending a practicum fair at my school. I was immediately drawn to the flexibility in placements and structure that the agency offers their interns. There are several schools throughout several districts, as well as different age groups to choose from.
What are some other roles you play in life you would like to share? Though I currently spend much of my time either at my Outreach internship or at school, I also enjoy working with children who struggle with autism and related disorders. I have spent several years practicing behavior intervention and providing parent training to families with a need for home support. I have found that I am very passionate about working with children who have special needs and have also seen the importance in training parents who were not likely expecting the responsibilities that accompany this population.
What led to your decision to be a school counselor with us? I decided to become a school counselor for Outreach following my interview with one of the Regional Field Supervisors. I felt welcomed by the staff and was given several options for where I could be placed. I was also encouraged and felt supported by the amount of supervision that counselors receive on a weekly basis, as well as the availability of all supervisors.
What are some key elements needed while working with children and adolescents in this role? I think that in order to be successful in this role, counselors need to learn to be open-minded and try to remember what it was like to be a child or adolescent. Though our culture continues to change with every passing year, the struggles that our students face can be overcome with the setting of goals and family support. I think that it is important to remember that we are working with children and adolescents, and that there are dynamics outside of what we see in the school system that are shaping the person we sit with in a counseling session.
How do you identify change in clients? I identify change in clients through their display in affect. I can identify this not only in the way that they present during session, but also by how they present themselves socially outside of session. I have found that even though this is primarily an indicator of how the client is doing emotionally, the positive changes in affect are also often and indicator of positive changes in their academics.
How can this practicum/internship experience help you in your future working in the mental health field? What I have found to be most valuable for my future as a mental health practitioner is the understanding and clarification that I have received for how the school system works. As a future Marriage and Family Therapist, it is important to understand what a day in the life of each child looks like and what type of struggles the students face inside the school system, as these dynamics are also influential to the development of each child.
What words of wisdom can you share with future candidates of Outreach Concern? It is important to remember that as an intern-counselor you are being welcomed into a school that has its own set of rules and culture within itself. What I have found to be most helpful is to join the existing faculty members in their goal to help their students reach their full potential. Join the culture that the school has to offer without losing touch of the boundaries that you should have as a mental health practitioner.