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Marital & Family Therapy Practicum: An Insider’s View

October 23, 2012

I am entering my fourth month of being at my practicum site, wow time is flying this school year! I feel as though just yesterday I was showing up for my first day of practicum and wondering, “What the heck am I doing here? I am not ready to be a therapist!” Now that I am entering my fourth month, I actually feel like a therapist; not a great one, but I see my skills growing everyday. During my sessions, I am pleasantly surprised by the information I am able to use from the courses I took last year. I have more knowledge then I gave myself credit for when I began at my site a few months ago.

The day that I scheduled my first session was filled with anxiety and nervous excitement. “What if I do not know what to say?” “What if my client doesn’t like me?” I was shocked that once the session started, I was comfortable and I knew what to say! I have been seeing my first client for months now and have built a strong therapeutic relationship with her. Although there are days that I still feel nervous before a session, most days I am excited to see my clients and feel privileged that they are willing to share their pain, struggles, and triumphs with me.

I started my practicum course at USD two months after I began seeing clients. The practicum course has made me feel so supported and shows me how much more I have to learn. In this class, we discuss some of our difficult cases and ask for help and feedback from our classmates and professor. Every Monday, after leaving the class, I have a whole new perspective on my clients and the issues they are facing. The rest of the week, I am able to try some of the techniques my classmates have suggested and see if it works for my client or not. It is fun to try out new ideas and find which theories and conceptualizations fit with my personality as a therapist.

Something I have learned while at practicum is that I have to leave the perfectionist in me at the door. All of us in grad school have done exceptionally well in school and are used to feeling confident and excelling in the classroom. However, I am a very new therapist and realize that it’s a steep learning curve. At my site, I have allowed myself to make mistakes and not beat myself up about them. I tell myself, “You are still a student, have fun trying things out!”

I see the progress and growth I have made as a therapist (and a person) since my first therapy session a few months ago and I look forward to my growth in the next four months!

– Liz H. ’13

Read more about the practicum experience and view our MFT practicum sites

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