MINI INTERNSHIP OFFERS GREAT OPPORTUNITY
A residential recovery center northeast of metro Atlanta offers students an enlightening four-day internship to explore career paths in recovery. What they learn in that short time could help them discover their life’s work.
by Patrick Farnsworth, Addictions Case Manager, Purple, Inc.
As more and more young people get sober, many of them are starting to consider careers in recovery. This path can seem intimidating at first, so an internship can be a great help as potential counselors try out their future field, exploring what it would be like to work in an actual recovery residence or treatment center.
A great example is Purple Inc. in Lawrenceville, Georgia. This residential recovery center focuses on helping men and their families build happy, sober lives. Purple aims at creating and maintaining a recovery lifestyle uniquely designed for each client in an environment where they live and breathe recovery as a way of life. Recently, the center began to receive clients from Collegiate Recovery Communities (CRCs) from around the country. To further support members of CRCs, Purple decided to offer a “mini internship” for students interested in working in recovery.
“The idea is to show these students the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges they’ll face in an actual working environment,” said Program Director Brett Bagley. “We want students to be able to experience life at a recovery residence so that they can become more informed and better equipped to tackle the challenges that arise when working at a treatment center or recovery residence.”
Purple’s first mini internship involved four students, two from the CRC at The University of Alabama and two from the University of Georgia (UGA). The internship lasted four days, Monday through Thursday. Interns shadowed employees, participating in and learning from daily tasks involved in running a recovery residence, from performing new client intakes to participating in group sessions—and everything in between.
“From day one, we were thrown right into the mix,” says intern Yana Parkhomenko of UGA. “We were greeted by Brett, shown to our hotel, and then we started! At first, it seemed a bit overwhelming, but all of the staff were very helpful, and before I knew it, we were really getting into the swing of things.”
At Purple, counselors face the daunting task of taking clients who are suffering from addiction and transforming them into happy, whole individuals. Each client needs individualized care from a competent team of dedicated staff. These clients must learn how to become employable; how to work a Twelve-Step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous; how to cope with a short-term crisis, where relapse could be possible; and how to manage long-term sobriety.
“These clients’ stories could shock you,” said intern Anna Leckie, also of UGA. “Absorbing and dealing with the past experiences of so many people was the challenging part, but it was also extremely rewarding. Just the idea that something you could say or show one of them could change their lives forever—that was amazing. I could definitely see why the Purple staff work as hard as they do.”
Before group sessions, the interns were briefed on the design of the group and the goals the staff hoped to accomplish. They participated in morning check-in groups, where clients shared their feelings and thoughts for the day, as well as the more in-depth cognitive groups, where deeper client issues were discussed. Throughout the day, Bagley and Ashley Kilpatrick, Purple’s senior counselor, periodically met with the interns and discussed aspects of working in the recovery field.
“I did my best to make sure that the interns were armed with as many facts as possible before going into a group,” said Kilpatrick. “We at Purple have to be prepared to come at a client from any number of directions. With over two decades of experience in the field, I know the tried-and-true methods of approach, so I wanted to be sure that the interns realized what I was doing while we were in group. I felt that their observations would be much more valuable to them if I supplied background information on the different types of therapies we utilize at Purple.”
“It was really cool to participate in group,” said Parkhomenko. “It was like the meat and potatoes of the experience, to see the clients have breakthroughs in groups and to see the staff in action.”
“They all seemed extremely knowledgeable and knew how to handle each situation,” said Leckie. “The groups were awesome. It was really great to be so informed on the process of how groups are facilitated. Any question we had, the staff gladly answered, and I was very impressed by their level of insight.”
By the end of the four-day period, the interns were sad to go. “We were asked to do a survey at the end of our stay,” said Parkhomenko. “I think we all said we wished the internship had been longer. We had gotten involved in all these clients’ lives and then abruptly had to go. It was kind of sad, actually.”
“I wish it could have been longer,” Leckie agreed. “It was good that they offered such a short snapshot so that we didn’t have to majorly disrupt our lives in order to have this experience, but we all still wanted to stay. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had, and it definitely encouraged me to continue to pursue a career in recovery.”
For information about future Purple Inc. internships, visit http://www.purpletreatment.com or call 770-962-8215. You can also follow Purple on Twitter @purpletreatment; like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/purpletreatment; or subscribe to their YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/purpletreatment.