Counseling student gains practical experience in the classroom and the clinic
Transitioning from the classroom into a real-world working environment can be challenging, but Master of Arts in Counseling student Cash Cada feels prepared. Experience he gained from his practicum and graduate assistantship have set him up for success at his nine-month internship.
“I start at Greater Lakes Mental Health in Tacoma working with outpatient adults in September,” Cash said. “I’ll have a caseload of 15 clients and hopefully will develop some long-lasting therapeutic partnerships.”
To prepare him for his internship, he completed practica at the CityU Counseling Center, the university’s free/low-cost clinic that offers services to people without health insurance.
“I’ve seen two clients at the CityU Counseling Center and developed close professional relationships with them and it has been enlightening and beneficial,” Cash said.
When clients visit the Counseling Center for the first time, they’re assigned to students who they’ll meet with on a regular, often weekly, basis. With the permission of clients, the sessions are filmed so they can be used to help students reflect on and learn from their experiences.
“When the session is over, the student gets feedback [from the clinic supervisor] and they’ll discuss new strategies the student can use in the future; it’s a hands-on learning experience,” Cash said. “The model is really great. It offers flexible service to people who need it, and it’s excellent experience for students to be in the field, implementing what they’re learning in the classroom and getting direct feedback.”
Motivation to help others
Cash gravitated toward counseling because of his long-term desire to help others. After volunteering through AmeriCorps with a residential foster care facility, he worked as a special education teacher before returning to school to pursue his future as a mental health counselor.
“In both AmeriCorps and schools, I worked with therapists in different capacities and admired the work they did, and knew I eventually wanted to do it too,” Cash said.
Through counseling, he has the opportunity to directly assist people in working through challenges and growing in new ways.
“Building real relationships and helping people work toward their goals is very rewarding,” Cash said. “I saw a therapist in college and that person helped me so much, and I wanted to be able to provide that to someone else.”
Studying counseling at CityU
As he prepares for his internship, Cash is grateful for the experiences he has had and the knowledge he has gained so far in his academic program.
“The model CityU uses is really practical and based in the current needs of the community at large and what the institutions in the area are saying they need,” Cash said. “The faculty are very knowledgeable and they’re all still working in some way in the field.”
One of the benefits of the program’s structure he sees is the opportunity to study and work with the same fellow students throughout the program.
“The cohort model is a big strength,” Cash said. “I’ve made some wonderful friends and developed a community that feels very personal. All of those things align to create a very welcoming and inclusive educational atmosphere.”
Overall, he’s looking forward to what he’ll learn in the second year of the program and through his internship.
“I want to hopefully gain a more clear vision of what my professional direction will be,” Cash said. “Hopefully, to learn what is effective and how I can best serve the needs of my community.”