Week #11 of counseling internship. I have a total of 151.75 hours (yay!) Here is the specific breakdown: 26 hours face to face, 4.25 hours individual supervision, 5 hours of group supervision, and 116.5 hours of related activities hours.
I’ve been lucky the past few years that I’ve never really been required to dress professionally on a regular basis. I had some nicer outfits for interviews et cetera, but working as a student worker for a high school missions program even as an office supervisor wearing one of our organization tshirts and jeans was fine. This presented with a challenge when I was moving into the internship face of my education, I had not updated my wardrobe on a consistent basis and many of my dress shirts were too short now, or my dress pants too tight.
Therefore, I knew I was going to need to spend some money up front. My apparel at work and designing outfits instead of simply pairing a top with a pair of pants has been a huge focus for me, as I know its important to create a sense of security for the client. My face and body seem particularly young (I’ll appreciate it one day when I’m older so I’m told), so it was my focus to appear older/more professional to, again, help the clients feel more secure. Our new office manager was always ridiculously sweet if I displayed these nerves at the beginning of my internship telling me that she told her children “you have the same holy spirit that everyone else has” reminding me that age is not always an important factor. (I told you she was the best birthday present ever!)
However, recently during a supervision meeting my supervisor suggested that I dress slightly more professionally, just amp it up a little bit. I explained that it was something that I was working on, and would continue to focus on. After polling our counseling intern facebook group for ideas, other friends on facebook, and studying the outfits on Pinterest, I had some guesses as to what I needed.
This is what I was wearing for the meeting, which my supervisor stated that the sweater was more casual looking.
These other outfits were what I wore to see clients those next few days. Supervisor saw them and approved!
In this instance it helped to pull my short hair into a bun, and focus on smaller details like decorative belts, cardigans, and jewelry to really piece the outfits together. This is going to be different at each location and with each set of counselors. At my private practice I work with many seasoned counselors so I think their style is to lean towards the more professionally dressed side of things, whereas other supervisors may create a more casual environment.
I’m simply excited to have experimented in this realm and to have learned something that I didn’t know as well before. Our outward appearances are only part of the package, however client first impressions are VERY important, and I’m grateful for the little details like pulling my hair up, if it helps the client to feel more secure with me. :0)