Recent Posts

Let's Talk About Termination Anxiety

Posted on February 20,2013 by abrigovmspp

"But it's only February!" you say? Well, that's exactly right. It is only February and I have already had a bad test run with my termination skills. During our weekly individual session, one of my clients was processing a number of recent losses. The client did tremendous work (which he sometimes is unwilling to do) and made multiple powerful connections between drug addiction and unhealthy relationships in his life. Towards the end of putting several "pieces" together, he made mention of how he hates counseling and hates working with people because they leave, especially the interns. (This is not the first time he has admitted to hating counseling but comes anyway because he knows he "needs" it.) I observed that when we first started working together, he knew my status as an intern. He gave a sort of non-response so I asked if he remembered when I would be leaving... A big mistake that opened an extra-large-sized can of worms I was unprepared for! I told him I was at the agency through the month of May. He proceeded to enter into a tremendously agitated state in which he used a few colorful words to express himself and declared point-blank, "I'm not coming back."

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Two birds, one stone, as they say

Posted on February 13,2013 by abrigovmspp

Whether or not this post is being written by an author who has been awake for almost 24 hours is irrelevant. Today at internship was hilarious and almost unbearably weird... for more reasons than this writer can count. The fact of the matter is that when ALL clients show up for individual sessions as scheduled (as opposed to 1/2 being No-Show's), it can be exhausting.

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What to do with a double major in Psychology and Spanish:

Posted on February 10,2013 by abrigovmspp

When I went "away" to college in CowTown, USA, studying was my least favorite pastime as a freshman. Having moved from NYC to a village that had its very own alfalfa plant sending a less-than-stellar aroma into the environment, I figured socializing would be the best way to cope. After finally getting my academic brain in gear (maybe after the first year?) I realized it was time to do some work and make the numbers on my transcript a little more grad school friendly. After 4 years and a few all-nighters, I graduated with my double major.

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The Truth About Capstone

Posted on January 28,2013 by abrigovmspp

It's not so bad! Today I submitted 10 annotations for my annotated bibliography. I could possibly be called "Queen of Procrastination" but even for someone like me, this whole Capstone business is manageable. It is stressful, yes, but the syllabus has everything broken down nicely. And when you have a professor like mine, you can email her in a slightly panicked state when the articles don't make sense and she will respond at 10:30 at night to make sure you know everything will work out just fine. You will get on with your day, you will get the assignment done, and you WILL graduate. End of story.

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About Those Boundaries

Posted on January 23,2013 by abrigovmspp

"It was beautiful, Val!!!!" said my client as she threw her arms around me for the hugest hug I have ever received from a non-family member or close friend. My client was recounting her 1 Year of Sobriety presentation at an NA meeting. So many wonderful things happened that night and she was absolutely beaming. How could I seriously not hug this lady?

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Posted on January 13,2013 by abrigovmspp

Tonight I was going to blog about the instant connection I had with a client on the kids' crisis unit last night at work. I was afforded a unique opportunity to connect with her through the sole fact that I can fairly easily communicate with her in her first language, Spanish. Rather than reflect on the extensive trauma history I found myself bombarded with, I'm going to tuck the evening into its own little compartment of my brain and just let it be. For my own self-care and mental health, I will not perseverate further. Instead, I will tell you what is on tap for tomorrow: As I have spent the entire day working on a pile of articles for my Capstone paper, my head hurts. As I continue on in full-steam-ahead mode, I know that tingling sensation isn't going to go away any time soon. Tonight there will be no less than 8 sweet hours of restful sleep, the day will begin calmly, I will go to my two classes, and then I have a date with myself. I am taking myself out for a yoga class! After all, it would be tremendously unhealthy and counter-productive to stay in "work, work, work!" mode for too long anyway. So here's wishing that each of you who glimpses at this post remembers to take the time to do something for you and you alone this week. Happy self-care!

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Finding the Re-Frame

Posted on January 11,2013 by abrigovmspp

It has been a tremendous first week. I know exhaustion has started to hit when "dumb" things start happening. For example, I stopped at the gas station right after the grocery store a yesterday evening... And then drove home 40 miles with the gas tank open, only to notice the little message flashing on the dash this morning on my way back to internship. But this morning's supervision ignited my clinician brain and really helped me focus.

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The Documentation Blues and a little goal-setting to start the semester off right

Posted on January 08,2013 by abrigovmspp

It's no surprise that human beings don't love paper work. It can be monotonous and an altogether sleepy task. I did a wise thing before break: I made sure not to schedule a single client on my first day back to internship. Why? Because it's documentation month, of course! At the community mental health agency where I work, we all try to follow a similar schedule in getting treatment plans updated. Since I knew that was going to be upcoming, there would surely be other things to get squared away before hunkering down to figure out the plan of action for each client for the next 3 months. As I grumbled about my rather large to-do list that was clearly winning the staring contest, another clinician popped in for a visit. She had some information regarding a client that was a pretty big deal. Just then she said, "We are going to have to be very careful in our documentation. I feel like the judge might subpoena our notes." Yikes! Talk about motivation to cross the t's and dot the i's!

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Facing the Facts

Posted on December 17,2012 by abrigovmspp

Tonight my mom asked me, "So just how much do you really know about what happened in Connecticut?" I admitted to her that really I didn't know too many details because I kind of tried not to find out. After telling me about a lot of what there was to know, she paused and reflected, "Can you imagine what it must've been like for those First Responders?" I felt like she wanted me to give her some kind of answer, like a tangible reason for why and how such tragedies can occur. Obviously there was nothing particularly comforting that I could say to my mom in that moment, but then I remembered something from my consultation and collaboration class from just a couple of weeks ago. I found out that there are debriefing processes that can take place within a few days of a tragic event. A trained person would facilitate this critical incident stress debriefing to help individuals process their experiences and feelings surrounding the event. I tried to explain this idea as best I could. As I said those words, it occurred to me that some day that may actually be one of my responsibilities as a clinician in the field. As much as I wanted to shield myself from knowing some of the details of Friday, it seems necessary to find a way to become informed about the harder-to-process events of the world. As graduation approaches, I realize just how many skills the counseling program is equipping me with to be able to face day-to-day challenges, not just as a clinician but as a member of society. I feel that when the school releases me out into what I call the "real world" it will be time to fulfill my responsibilities of service and dedication to whatever community I live in... even if it means pushing myself to purposely know what is happening in the world around me.

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Survival Mode: A Strengths-Based Approach

Posted on December 12,2012 by abrigovmspp

Most folks probably have an idea of how a strengths-based model works: Rather than focus on the problem or what's "wrong" with the picture, you start with identifying what does work, or the sources of strength. Not only can this be a tremendously effective path to take with clients, it can also be helpful for us students who are feeling less than super as we approach the final page of each syllabus. Sometimes, as one pushes right along throughout the semester, "stuff" mysteriously builds up somewhere deep inside. Eventually it needs an outlet or else the energy and ability to focus start disappearing or going haywire. This is not conducive to productivity. But how does one counteract those inevitable feelings of stress and perhaps despair? This is where "practicing what you preach" comes in. I had to take a good long look at myself this week and say, "What am I good at? What makes me feel good that is a healthy way to put some sense back into my life? How can I clean up all of this negative energy to hit the refresh button?" I figured out that I needed a major de-stressing session so I found a convenient yoga studio offering a $5 community class. This was the most glorious thing I've done for myself all week. And yes, it's only Wednesday. But having the chance to sweat out all of my bad energies had a tremendously healing effect. When you're trying (fighting?) so hard to get into and maintain postures, there's no room to allow the "stuff" from the day/week/semester to penetrate your brain. The conscious mind simply can't support everything at once, and if I had let the negativity back in, I likely would have fallen over in my Trikonasana, or "triangle pose." Find what works for you and embrace it knowing it's your strength-based way to manage the stresses of the every day. No one can take that away from you!

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