Available to junior and senior psychology majors and minors, the program enables students to work closely with children, adolescents and adults in educational, clinical or medical settings, where they can apply their classroom learning to real-life situations.
“This is an excellent experiential learning opportunity that capitalizes on Wittenberg’s long-standing commitment to community service and education in the liberal arts,” said Mary Jo Zembar, associate professor and chair of the psychology department. “Many students are amazed at how much they know and can contribute to the internship site as well as how much they learn in return.”
Rebecca Jenzen, class of 2006, of Grosse Pointe, Mich., is currently interning at Keifer Alternative Learning Center in Springfield. The school offers a flexible learning environment for students removed from their previous school(s). As an intern, Jenzen assists with counseling, mentoring and co-facilitates an anger management group. She also observes and learns different counseling techniques. Jenzen’s experiences at Keifer, which she describes as demanding but gratifying, have affirmed her interest in adolescent counseling as a career path.
“As a college student working with adolescents, I feel that I can relate to them on a level that the other therapists cannot — as a peer,” she said.
Jenzen is just one of several students taking advantage of the department’s internship opportunities. Liz Asta, class of 2006, of Millbury, Mass., is also benefiting from her internship at Springfield’s Rocking Horse Medical Center, which provides comprehensive health care to children regardless of insurance status. At the medical center, Asta observes child therapy sessions and is responsible for childcare for autistic children and their siblings. One of the most challenging aspects of the internship is being exposed to cases of child sexual abuse and violence.
“I have a better understanding of the social service system as a result of this internship,” Asta said. “The interactions that I have had also helped me to learn that this is the population that I would like to work with in the future.”
Other internship sites include the Springfield Child Advocacy Center, where students work with a crisis team to provide support for families with child victims of abuse, and Oesterlen Services for Youth, also in Springfield, where interns are able to observe therapy sessions, take part in the direct care of emotionally disturbed youth and help youth with anger management.
- Leslie Banas '06
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