Name: Reyna A. Mendez
Title: School Counselor
School: St. Andrew
How did you hear about Outreach? I found Outreach Concern when I attended a CAMFT internship fair. I remember it was the first booth I stopped to get information. I talked to an Outreach Concern representative; I was impressed by her professionalism and friendly attitude. She described what the agency was about and attentively listened to and answered my questions. After speaking with her I decided to leave my resume, as I was convinced I wanted to do my internship with them.
What are some other roles you play in life you would like to share? I am currently working on my second year of School-Based Family Counseling at Cal State Los Angeles. I also work for a non-profit organization called, Peace Over Violence, where I’m a case manager and crisis intervention counselor to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. When I need an outlet and practice self-care, I like to dance. I participate with a local Brazilian dance group that promotes healthy and active living through dance.
What led to your decision to be a school counselor with us? I liked the professionalism and the full support the agency provides. I was seeking for an internship site, where I could have the guidance but at the same time one that would allow me to grow and help me develop my own style as a counselor. I felt Outreach Concern was a good match for me.
What are some key elements needed while working with children and adolescents in this role ? Listen. Don’t rush to come up with a treatment plan. Be patient. Not all children or adolescents are the same. If you don’t know what the student is talking about, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. If possible try to be up to date with what children and adolescents interests are. Communication with the family is key, but of course always keep your client’s confidentiality. Remember to keep clear boundaries but be approachable. Be authentic. Children and adolescents can smell phony from a mile away. It’ll all be good for the therapeutic relationship and trust you develop with your client. Sometimes, it’ll be difficult but be patient, the student will lead the way if you go at their pace.
How do you identify change in clients? Sometimes the students themselves will tell you, but more often times you’ll see it reflected on the feedback you receive from parents and from teachers. You’ll see it when you notice that your student has learned the tools they needed to deal or manage with their presenting problem.
How can this practicum/internship experience help you in your future working in the mental health field? The experience I have gained with Outreach Concern will definitely serve me throughout my career. Doing my internship with them, has given me the confidence to talk to other mental health professionals, school faculty and parents. It has broadened my knowledge and experience as a counselor as well as personally. In my supervision experience, I have learned to conceptualize cases and receive feedback and apply it into my therapeutic approaches. In addition, I have become more organized with my time management and paperwork. This experience definitely offered me the opportunity to work with children and adolescents in a comprehensive way. I have learned and appreciated it the valuable and rewarding experience that is working with this population.
What words of wisdom can you share with future candidates? Come in with a positive attitude. Be ready to be flexible and learn. Listen to all the suggestions your supervisors give you. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re in supervision, you’ll learn more if you participate often. Try to make friends with the other counselors, even though you might feel competitive, remember that you’re in it together and you can be great support and create networks with them. Do take advantage of the support you receive from your regional supervisor, mine was absolutely amazing, not only was there to support me with paperwork, ethical questions and logistics but was an incredible moral support and was there to encourage me and motivate me through this experience. There will be moments of anxiety but you won’t feel alone because you’ll have great support that will guide you and be there to make sure you succeed. Don’t be to hard on yourself, be open and have fun in this great journey!