Ask Billie

“Billie” Klayman,

What is the Path or Development
from Traineeship to Internship?

When contemplating about a topic for this month’s Voices, I reached out to our newsletter editor, and she suggested I write about tracking one’s growth in the development cycle from trainee to intern. A side note, in January 1, 2018 the title of Intern will change to Associate.

When we look at growth in one’s developmental cycle we want to see progress. What progress looks like is different for each person. As I watch my supervisees grow into becoming confident therapists, the wisdom I pass on is, your experience, maturity, and patience is your best guide. Your patients often will be your best teachers.

The search for a training site can be very daunting for some. As a trainee reality starts to set in as to what is really involved in order to become licensed. You’ll need to create your resume in order to convey you have skills that make you a good candidate as a trainee. There will be the interview where you might feel somewhat anxious because you’ve never done this kind of work before. Also, the time commitment, paperwork, supervision, trainings, and mandatory staff meetings come into the picture.

It is important to know that you are needed and a valuable asset in the agency you end up working at. Some of the questions you might want to ask the interviewer include:

  1. What kind of populations they serve?
  2. Are there diagnoses that would restrict a patient from being seen at the site?
  3. What modalities do they focus on?
  4. How long have the supervisors been at the site?
  5. Do they pay interns?
  6. How much training do they provide before you begin seeing your first patient?
  7. What ongoing training do they provide?
  8. What is their intake process for new patients?
  9. Do they limit the amount of time a patient can be seen at their site?
  10. How do they handle progress notes and assessment?

These are just some of the questions you may want to start thinking about. Your traineeship is much like nursery school. You are taught new skills that will help you mature as a therapist. Your first experience with counter-transference in a session with your patient might finally make sense. Working with patients that are severely dysregulated can be quite challenging. This is where your supervisor can be instrumental in guiding you through unexpected experiences in the room with your patients.

If you are lucky enough to be financially independent, then working at a site as an unpaid intern may not be an issue. If you have graduated with your diploma and still need to work, then careful planning is in order. Pacing yourself during this journey is primary. There are some agencies that do pay interns, but most do not. Self-care and balance in your life cannot be overlooked.

Tracking your development by keeping a journal is a great way to see your evolution. By the time you graduate and move into your internship, hopefully you will feel steadier as you walk along your journey to licensure. Some things you may notice as you become more comfortable in the room with your patients include: you don’t get as rattled as you did as a trainee; you have a better understanding of your counter-transference and learn how to use it in the room with your patient; you may start finding you like working with certain populations or diagnoses; and hopefully you will feel more confident in supervision and with your supervisor(s).

I hope this will assist your thinking about watching and exploring your growth as you develop your skills on your journey. Please feel free to email me with your questions at:

Valerie “Billie” Klayman, M.A., LMFT, an integrative Meaning Centered Therapist, became a supervisor at Antioch University Counseling Center in 2014. Billie initiated a partnership between AUCC and the Culver City Senior Center offering pro-bono therapy and group therapy to members of CCSC. December 2016, Culver City hired Billie to help residents of the community at the Culver City Senior Center. She’s presented on Substance Abuse and Addiction. Billie can be reached at