I am going into my 5th week at my practicum site. I currently work with the homeless population at a local shelter. The shelter provides food, shelter inside (and outside for those who still prefer to sleep under the stars), medical and a case manager as well as other services. The shelter provides many of its services on site, so they don't have to travel very far and it's very convenient. The shelter even has a kennel and a gym. Yes, a kennel. The owners of the pets are responsible for feeding and walking the animal, but vet services are provided by the shelter. This way, the homeless person does not have to give up their best friend. It is a well run shelter, and I am proud to be a part of it. I feel connected to the staff and some of the "prospects".
However; as far as long term counseling services, this is not the place for me. The homeless population is a very transient population and they are concerned with getting their basic needs met, but not counseling services. Once they have food in their belly and a place to sleep, many of them are concerned with getting a job. The men and women on the "member" side already have a counselor and a case manager, already. They are talked and therapied out. The last thing they want to do is talk to another, new, counselor.
With this being said, my practicum site is full on surprises. I get a chance to talk to a wide variety of people from all walks of life. I can work on building rapport with a few of them, and some even update me when I arrive (if they are awake). I am finding that silver lining. I have to start from the bottom, advertise, and make myself known. This isn't each for a shy wallflower. I am not used to promoting myself or advertising services I don't know I can do yet. I am confident in my counseling abilities, however, this is the first time I get to use my "book knowledge" out in the real world. This is new territory for me, but I expected this was going to happen. I am actually getting a better picture of what a counselor does, who a counselor is and what makes a good one. I am enjoying my practicum site, and I am learning to promote myself.
Next semester, I plan to seek out a site what will be able to provide a case load for me. I am able to build rapport and counsel someone one time. However; I would like to be able to counsel someone longer than one session and really get a feel for the therapeutic process from beginning to the end. One of the difficulties I had was starting the conversation. I think that with this practicum site, I am getting over that problem very quickly.