Clocked Over 200 Internship Hours!

I know it has been awhile since I updated you on the progress of my internship…and now I’m just so excited I could burst. I keep going around telling all of the other staff at my site where I’ve arrived!

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Here are the stats: Week #15 of internship: 44.25 Face to Face, 7.5 Individual Supervision, 7 Group Supervision, 159.5 Related Activity hours for a grand total of 218.25 hours!

Preparation work the beginning of this week finally put me over the top. It is beyond exciting that I’ve finished 1/3 of the total hours that I need, and daily growing closer to that halfway mark. Also, for face to face 240 hours total are required. This means that since I have 44.25 hours I’ve cracked that 200 number! I know this is just in my head, but having 196 hours of face to face remaining seems like a MUCH smaller number than 200.

As for my activities until very recently most of my time was still spent doing co therapy, especially in the form of family therapy. I’ll do a post soon about important theories and techniques that I’ve learned in that area soon. Another area of development/practice include premarital sessions based on Prepare Enrich which I may have the opportunity to become certified in later this summer.

What is incredibly exciting is that I’ve had 2 new clients within the past few weeks, and have 4 new clients this week. When it rains it pours I guess!

One technique that I developed the other week is helping clients studying the Bible. When we meet our clients we have no idea how they’ve been taught about the fundamentals in the Bible or other baggage that they may have that is affecting their spiritual growth. If you hear them say things like “Reading the Bible doesn’t work” I encourage you to challenge them, ask them “well how did you expect it to work?” I think it is easy for us as Christians to read certain verses and when we struggle with accepting them, instead of wrestling with them and pushing into our relationship with Jesus, we pull away avoiding the discomfort that we have allowing room for doubt. Instead, when we or our clients encounter aspects of the faith that we don’t understand, or don’t feel like is working we can be comforted knowing that like the man in Mark 9 we can grow in our faith when we honestly express it. Jesus calls the man out for his disbelief and the man replies:

Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Danced with the Daffodils

This winter has been particularly windy and cold in my opinion, I am excited that it is “officially” over. While others may relish the opportunity to wear cute sweaters and scarves, I look forward to that time of the year where I can step outside the apartment doors and not worry about retreating inside for a jacket. I want the sun’s rays to warm my skin without an icy chill in between.

For me spring time means flowers, specifically daffodils. Where I grew up there is an annual spring festival centered around daffodils. During high school it was just a parade and festival to hang out with friends, and maybe spend time with my crush.

Last year I really noticed with the wild yellow daffodils began to bloom in full force around the highways, and it made me nostalgic for home. I’ve told husband that whenever we have a house with our own yard it will not be complete without some daffodils!

In the meantime I can show this throw back picture with you! A few of the years I participated as a Daffodil Princess (with a proper sash and crown of mini daffodils). I got to ride in the parades, even though one year it literally “rained on my parade” and I was stuck waving from inside the car to my royal subjects. We competed for the title of Daffodil Queen, which I sadly never won.

Daffodil Princess

My favorite memory of presiding as a daffodil princess was I think the first year I participated. Friends and family gathered together and loudly called out their funny nickname for me. Upon hearing this, I turned to look at them and stuck out my tongue. (I was 16 I think at the time). A young girl next to my mother said aghast, “Princesses don’t stick their tongues out!” My mother laughed and replied, “Well, you don’t know this princess!”

According to the weather reports we may still expect some snow flurries despite that it is officially Spring. Though this is rare, it has happened before, as once — I think the only year I brought now husband home to enjoy the festival — it was cancelled due to a snow fall! Here’s to hoping our Spring weather is on the warmer side, for the sake of the daffodils!

Snowy Daffodils

Attended a New Connections Membership Class

The weekend before last flashed by in a blur. Husband and I were able to attend the weekend intensive class designed to be the first step towards membership at the church we’ve been attended for the past few years. Usually, this class is offered as a Wednesday night elective over the course of 14 weeks. Instead, we participated in the class for 3.5 hours Friday night, then another 7 hours on Saturday.

New Connections Class

These classes cover material from an intro to theology, to the overall purpose of the church, with an chance for each pastor to share about the ministries they run and volunteer opportunities with each ministry.

Poor husband was not looking forward to the intensive format of this class, wasn’t sure if he felt like it was really necessary to commit to officially being a member.

The first sessions were the hardest…I had no idea how I could endure an entire day of this before rushing off to a counseling session!

Saturday morning we were rewarded with a delicious breakfast as the men’s prayer meeting has a nice breakfast when they meet. Also, during the sessions we were treated to snacks every few sessions. Many of these snacks included a balance between sugary options and healthier things like fruit. Seriously, the strawberries were almost the size of my fist—so of course I had to take a picture to be able to share with you.

Fruit snacks

After lunch I felt like I had acclimated to the overall process. I was entertained to discover that I would be listening to yet my one hundred and first lesson about DISC from my former boss. Afterwards, even husband reflected that he was more excited about the prospects of being “official” members. It is nice to have a sense of belonging. Not only that, through each of the segments it was easy to hear the heart and passions of the pastors, especially the head pastor. Being a counselor, it was refreshing to get the sense that he understands that people have baggage and need to process through that, versus some pastors will just expect people to easily understand and accept Biblical truths into their lives.

At one point he mentioned the missions focus of the church, discipleship both here and abroad. Abroad he shared the status of Christianity in the 10/40 window, with as many as 1 million Christians likely being in Iran at this point! Then, he redirected and mentioned the 40/60 window, how in Europe there is complete freedom to openly proclaim the gospel, but yet there are very few missionaries there and the people’s hearts are very resistant. I teared up almost thinking about my work in Italy, and not being able to join them this summer.

Ironically, as I write this we find ourselves again at the church. Hubster is helping them work on their servers/networks. It is quite entertaining! I really enjoy being connected again. Husband and I hope to work with the youth group maybe this summer. :0)

Been Confronted While Open Carrying

Husband and Wife Open CarryThis past weekend I had an interesting and rare experience while carrying a firearm, we received more of a negative reaction from an individual who was fairly respectful, but just wanted to stop us and let us know their negative opinion of our actions.

In the state of Virginia you can openly carry a firearm at the age of 18 without a permit (as long as you do not have a criminal record). Comparatively, you need to obtain a permit if you wish to carry concealed. While this process has become easier over the last few years, as it is very unlikely that anyone would be denied this as long as they meet the criteria (age 21, no criminal record, and have taken a firearms safety course). However, as the 2nd amendment should be our permit, we do not appreciate the extra steps involved between a simple difference in open versus concealed carry. Thus the majority of my friends with firearms choose to openly wear their firearms. Wearing them this way is usually much easier/more comfortable, as well as helps the public see that firearm ownership and carry is normal.

The husband and I are frequently stopped by curious people. They often ask about the legality (as they are unfamiliar with Virginia’s laws etc) and we help to dispel myths they may have overheard from the media. While these conversations vary, mostly everyone is just curious. This past weekend I was confronted with my most negative response in about 3 years of regular carry, and for my husband’s 5 years of regular carry. I want to share that situation with you, as well as share general tips on how to navigate this aspect of firearms carry.

This past Sunday several friends made the decision to go out to eat after our Sunday School time. This is a fairly regular occurrence and about seven of us were carrying whether openly or concealed. We go to this restaurant fairly often, and as our group of 11 were leaving I was at the back of our exodus. I overheard a couple of guys sitting with their young family commenting as they saw the openly carried firearms, “Why are they carrying pistols?” I grinned to myself, then I heard them ask loudly, “Hey! Why are ya’ll carrying pistols?” At this point it was myself, another friend newer to open carry, and another couple who were left to answer his questions.

My friend responded that we carried for self defense. The gentleman (country good ole’ boy) in his  Remington hat asked snarly, “You are saying that you don’t feel safe in this restaurant?” I began to explain that this is a lifestyle choice for us (though he didn’t know I was carrying as I was concealed carrying at the time) because the world is full of evil and every place “feels safe” until it isn’t anymore. He commented that he felt like what we were doing was “dangerous” as “aren’t you afraid that they could be used against you? That is a double edge sword” as his friend mumbled under his breath about the differences between civilians and non civilians. I explained that we’ve all had training, many with police officers or other officials, and that we prepare against that risk by being situationally aware.

I emphasized that we take this very seriously, and we’d hate to use them, but just want to be able to defend ourselves should we need it. He then asked to my friend, “have you ever been involved in a fist fight? Well, would you try to fist fight before using your weapon?” I chuckled at this and said, “I don’t think a fist fight would work out in my favor” (Seriously who asks a woman that question?!!! Though I don’t think they suspected that I also carried on a regular basis ;0) ).

At this point husband had noticed our absence and joined us as the gentleman was wrapping up. We could tell that he did not want to debate the issue, he really just wanted to share our opinions. He told us that we could easily offend those around us, that we were dangerous, and that while he could tell that we were respectful/took it seriously and that he agreed with the second amendment, he felt that what we were doing was “unnecessary.” We respectfully departed at that point.

While that is the first time that anyone has ever been that blatant and confronted me with their very negative opinions of open carrying actions, I would still consider it a positive experience. I think we presented ourselves well to those gentlemen, and didn’t respond negatively to their rude criticisms. Basically, they accused us of being dangerous and we calmly understood that his opinions couldn’t hurt us. I think his eyes were opened at the description of our training etc. I think in the future he’ll think more about this, especially the next time that he sees someone as there are more and more open carriers the more in our area.

Summary of Open Carry Tips and Talking Points

* Remain calm Especially if you are more introverted than my “disgustingly extroverted” husband than being asked about something by strangers can be very unnerving. Most of the time people are just curious if they’ve never seen anyone carry a gun that way before. This is the perfect opportunity to explain that it is a completely normal thing.

*Be polite/respectful Many times people may stop us and ask some of the stupidest questions “Is that a real gun?” And all you want to do is answer “No, I just like carrying a fake gun around.” I actually once had a pot bellied 40 something male come up and bend over looking at my hip very awkwardly and ask me if I was wearing a taser. I wanted to explain that I was carrying a firearm, and that one of the reasons was because of creepy people like him. Even if people are rude, you can rationally explain your beliefs. If they do not accept your information or are rude to you, that is their own choice.

* Be educated If you are going to publicly speak about firearms, understand why you do what you do, and be able to explain it to others. Be able to share where they can get more information. Be available to dispel the myths that are frequently shared in the media. I know VCDL and other organizations have cards that you can print and give to people.

*Let them direct conversation Most of the time people have the same few questions “Is it real?” “Is that legal?” “Is it loaded?” “Aren’t you worried that someone could take that?” “What training have you had?” “Do you need a permit?” “What about assault weapons?” etc. Some of these encounters will be relatively short, while others can last as long as an hour. This is not time for you to preach politics at them “That darn politician…!” but rather simply a time to answer their questions.

*Be understanding Try to ask their background with firearms, or what state their from if they seem nervous. Many people have never been around firearms in their life; all they’ve ever seen has been the media and real life massacre events. To them if you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t have a permit could be the scariest thing in the world, because they still think that the firearm is an evil thing that could jump out of your holster at any given moment. This is something that my husband has really grown in, as I was able to share how scary firearms were to me at first due to public education and never being around them. In this way you can say “Oh, I can definitely understand that that is scary to you, but the important thing to remember is it is a tool like anything else.” This makes the individual feel listened to; you’ve validated their concerns.

*Be a good tipper One of the easiest ways to have open carry events in your area is to eat out together. If you’re going to do this it is highly recommended that you tip well, and refrain from drinking alcohol to show that you are responsible and not a jerk.

Let me know if you can think of any other important tips for conversations regarding open carry!

Studied Play Therapy (Gun/Agressive/Violent Play)

It is week #12 of my counseling internship and here is the breakdown of my hours: 30.25 face to face, 4.25 individual supervision, 5 group supervision, and 119 related activities hours, all of this adds up to a total of 158.5 hours.

One therapy technique that has fascinated me is play therapy. For my undergraduate degree I majored in youth and women’s ministry. I remember one church that husband and I were visiting to maybe become our new home church, before we were married, and I shared my training in youth ministry. The pastor explained that there wasn’t a need for help with the youth group, but that the children’s ministry needed help. I rebelled, I felt that I since I had college training with youth, the church shouldn’t just assume that I’d work with children because I was a woman. Improperly, I felt offended.

While in Italy for a couple of weeks the past two summers doing children’s ministry became my favorite activities during the day. It didn’t matter if the balloon animals actually looked the way that they were supposed to,  the children just wanted to be loved through quality time in play. They were so happy when we chased them in “cane, cane, gato” (duck, duck, goose).

Thus, my interest in play therapy was birthed. I thought that maybe play therapy would be more refreshing than talk therapy with adults. I began to research play therapy, finding a video tutorial showing examples with explanations. Play therapy is MUCH different than I expected, it is less of interacting with the child or affirming the child with our value statements. Instead, play therapy, in the strictest sense, is a therapy model in which the child is allowed into a play room to play with toys in any way that they want. The therapist then verbalizes what the child is doing, this helps the child to  better understand their actions. I was surprised when the play therapist listed a category of necessary toys called “aggressive play toys” including guns, swords, and handcuffs.

In the aftermath of the gruesome Newtown massacre, there have been more incidences in the news lately where children have gotten in trouble writing about the recreational use of guns, or for playing with gun shaped items. One second grader recently chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and was suspended from school for two days, despite that he didn’t hurt anyone! 

playrobbery

Last month in the United Kingdom, Playmobil introduced the above toy at a Toys R Us. It is a play robbery set, in which the children pretend to be the robbers who confront the bank manager. This toy was in the news with parents wrestling the message it was sending to children.

When daydreaming and planning for the future someday I wonder how I should educate my children about such things. I know some parents expressly forbid that they don’t play with anything gun shaped, while other will allow them to play with such toys as long as they don’t shoot other people.

Husband grew up around guns his entire life, and has more experience to draw from when we think about how we will teach our children about firearms someday. I shared the above observation with him, wondering his opinion. He explained that when he was a child that his parents had a really good rule. The rule in his house was that they were not allowed to “play guns” with anyone who wasn’t already playing the game. Therefore, it was okay for he and his brother to play with a nerf gun, or pretend guns, even pretending to fire at each other, as long as they didn’t hit others like parents or sister who were not already involved in the play between the “good guy” and “bad guy.” This may seem like a clever way as a parent to not end up at the wrong end of a nerf gun when you are busy cleaning, but husband explained to me that this helped to reinforce the idea that you do not hurt innocent people. His parents were helping them learn through play to establish proper boundaries for acts of aggression.

Continuing my research of play therapy, and especially play with guns I happened upon this fascinating article by a Marriage and Family Therapist Katrinca Ford, about gun play. Basically, she reflects upon a family she assisted once. Their young son was having behavioral problems. He would randomly hit other children on the playground for no reason. Kartinca observed the family playing together to try to assess the problem. What she discovered was that the young son was not allowed to act out any aggressive actions during play time, he was steered away from such actions. Katrinca explained to the parents how to be supportive during play time, even allowing the four year old to express himself through symbolic violent actions, and the physically aggressive behavior on the play ground disappeared.

In the March 2010 issue of Play Therapy magazine a Point-Counterpoint_Blog_Mar10 play with guns argument was shared.

The basis of play therapy is that children speak through play. When children are young they learn through their play actions. If you limit them from only having certain toys, you are effectively taking away their words. You are also preventing them from forming opinions about certain objects. When children play as good guys vs bad guys with toy guns they are learning morals. In playing the bad guy they are less likely emulating or aspiring to be a bad guy, because there has to be a bad guy, but they could be learning that when people do bad things that there will be good to stop them. They are even learning that certain actions like stealing, hurting women and children, etc is wrong.

As an intern I have limited knowledge and experience in this area, and plan to continue research into this area. As a hopeful someday parent, I understand better how aggressive play can help a child process the world around them but does not lead them to violence. I wonder if by our children not allowed to communicate about certain “violent” objects, or unable to play out actions of aggression in schools if we are inhibiting them to learn how to control themselves through play and are instead acting out aggression in real life.

In one article “bang bang gun play and why children need it” from a therapist in the UK, written in 2003, I read describe how forbidding gun play means that likely the children are still playing, but instead they lie about the objects that they are making as they feel they will not be accepted. Another article shares how to structure gun play with your child to benefit your child the most and how to avoiding shaming them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!