Saturday, October 13, 2007

They like me. They really, really like me.

I'm not used to this.

Yesterday both the office manager and program director asked me if I was enjoying the internship so far and were really happy to know that I'm really happy with the variety of challenges this job presents -- group work, individual work, psychotherapy, concrete case management tasks. The day before, the program director and I again co-led one of the groups. After, I approached her hesitantly to ask how she thought it went -- I had sort of inspired one of the group members to ramble past a discussion point, and the group is based on a set curriculum, and I felt like I'd derailed things -- and she said, mildly surprised, "I thought it went really well -- didn't you?"

She then asked if I knew how to enter group progress notes in the client management software system. A progress note is a record you make of every encounter with a client, which goes in their file; a group note simultaneously places a note about how the group went in the files of all clients who participated. "I know why you want me to co-facilitate this group -- you're tired of doing the notes!" I joked. She demurred, laughing, insisting that I brought other good things to group sessions.

Then I made a slightly inappropriate joke during team meeting, stupidly, and at supervision the next day I was paralyzed with fear, waiting for Melanie to bring it up. Instead, she discussed something else entirely and said, "Well, that's all that I have -- what did you want to talk about?"

I'm not used to such a lack of criticism. My last supervisor, at the DV service agency, was always plenty critical of my work, even though my clients blew me off so often, there wasn't much of it. The Bad Place, The Other Bad Place, and Dean Evillene also shook my confidence. But Melanie told me that she's giving me less direction than she would give a first-year student, and that even when I mess up (such as by asking a person who has paranoid schizophrenia too many questions), clients are forgiving. So, apparently, is Melanie. She thinks I can do this job.

I also discovered that talking to clients can be a very effective cure for whatever bad mood you're in. Not simply because they've suffered more than I have -- it just takes you out of yourself. Thursday morning I went to visit a really cool rehabilitation center for one of my classes, and also to see if their unique techniques could benefit our clients. There was no direct train route from the center to my internship, and the trains were running weird -- being taken out of service, or running express several stops beyond mine. It took forever to get to the internship, and I was stressed, anxious, and upset when I finally got there. Not that they're watching the clock as far as my work is concerned -- it was just such a waste of time, and I had things to do.

But when I got in, two clients were sitting in the group room. I went in to say hi, and ended up chatting with them for about 20 minutes. One of them, a large, dignified Jamaican man who's in the groups I co-facilitate, told me I should work full-time at this agency, telling me I am cheerful and caring. The other, a frail African-American woman, was probably just happy to talk to a staff member who wasn't slightly tired of listening to her long litany of ailments, which include sleep problems and smoking. I commiserated and told her I'd look into a few holistic treatments, which seemed to make her very happy.

And the funny thing was -- so was I. I felt happy that we'd made a good connection and that even though I hadn't had any real concrete solutions to offer yet, I'd helped make her feel a little better. In 15 minutes, my mood completely changed.

I was in a good mood on Friday, especially after I didn't get criticized in supervision as I'd feared. But by the end of the day I was exhausted -- and didn't want to see or talk to anyone. Partly because I'd been working with a client Melanie says is very exhausting, but also because I'd been "on" every day this week. I came home and crashed, and didn't stir outside all Shabbos. And I was anxious -- Entenmann-finishing anxious. I was craving cakes with creamy icing, doughnuts, pies; good thing it was Shabbos and I couldn't go buy anything, and I don't keep it in the house. But it was difficult.

I hope work + school get a little less exhausting, and that my anxiety abates somewhat. But it's wonderful (and so unexpected) that people are so happy I'm there and happy with my work. It's starting to restore my confidence in myself.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Now *I'm* hungry for Entenmann's.

    Thanks a lot, Ayelet. :)

    Oh, and also good show on the whole not being criticized thing. Maybe you're actually doing good work and they're happy to have you? Crazy, right?

  2. That's fantastic! I'm so happy for you that you're finally getting the chance to work in a place that truly appreciates all you have to offer and your supervisor isn't hypercritical.