Q: What are you doing now?
Sarina: I'm actually just changing jobs. For the past three years I’ve been working at a non-profit that placed counselors in the public school system here in Miami. I was only working at one school, but I did group counseling with the kids. I had about a hundred kids I worked with doing psychoeducational and therapeutic counseling services. That’s what I’d been doing as I was getting my licensure hours. Now that I'm licensed, I’m about to start as a licensed therapist at a community health center. I also recently started seeing clients at a private practice. I did that originally because I was working with kids, and it was enjoyable but I kind of missed working with adults where I could utilize hard counseling skills. With the kids, it was a lot more psychoeducational, so I started at the private practice part-time to fine-tune those skills again because I felt like I wasn't really getting a chance to use them with the kids as much.
Q: Do you find it rewarding to work with clients across the lifespan?
Sarina: Yes, working with the kids is amazing because, there is such a need. The school I worked in was in a low-income neighborhood, mainly first-generation American population, a lot of my kids didn't speak English, and so I had to use Spanish a lot. I had such a good relationship with the teachers. When there were issues, instead of sending students to the in-school suspension room, they would send them to me because it was more productive for both the student and the teacher. I got to actually address the issues. To see the kids improving -- their grades, their attendance -- that in and of itself is so rewarding.
With the adults, it is a very different kind of rewarding. I'm using different skills and having conversations with them that I can't with adolescents. That's much more of an intrinsic motivation because I feel really challenged. I'm able to call on theories and methods and techniques.
Q: What sort of wider impact do you hope that your work has?
Sarina: I hope that I'm able to encourage the people that I'm working with to help themselves. I want clients that I work with to truly not need my services anymore because they are empowered and have learned how to take control of their own problems and find their own solutions.
Q: Do you feel like Pitt's Counseling program prepared you for the work you are now doing?
Sarina: Yes, the program really did. I can't sing its praises enough. It really gave me the skills to feel confident in what I'm doing and competent as well. One thing I remember, in the first counseling class, we had to do mock counseling tapes. I was so nervous! But the critiques that I got -- I took those with me and used them to fine-tune my work when I'm with real clients. So, that was really helpful and I remember the things they said I could improve on.