You’ve already decided that you would like to start seeing a therapist, and now comes the process of deciding which provider to work with. While you’re evaluating your options, you notice that some of the providers available to you are listed as an “intern” in their profile. While your first thought may be to look for someone who is fully licensed or has graduated from their Master’s program instead (and we get it!), there are some compelling reasons you may want to work with an intern as your therapist
Interns always have one clinical supervisor, and often two: one clinical supervisor at the site they are interning, and often one clinical supervisor in their educational program as well. These supervisors are fully licensed and credentialed, and often have special training to become supervisors themselves. Interns review and consult with their supervisor(s) on all of their cases, which means that you are not only getting one therapist working on your case, but two or three therapists whose time, expertise, and investment are applied to working with you in therapy.
Interns are still completing their Master’s degree and are actively involved in their academic environment, which means it is literally an intern’s job to learn about how to be an outstanding therapist every day. The intern you may choose as your therapist not only spends a great deal of their time learning the most up-to-date theories and techniques, but also invests that time in working with their faculty, supervisors, and fellow interns to deepen their understanding and develop methods of application for those theories and techniques as well. In an intern, you are getting a therapist who is not only on the cutting edge of theory and technique but is also spends their days learning how to utilize those theories and techniques the most effective way.
Interns are in their Master’s degree programs, and so therapy is their biggest focus during this time. Most programs are incredibly rigorous and time-consuming, so learning and practicing become an intern’s full-time job. As a client, you can benefit from working with someone whose main focus at this time in their life is giving you the best care and therapy possible. Additionally, as a client you can benefit from seeing someone who is newer in the field and isn’t as likely to be experiencing burnout from spending decades working as a therapist. Interns are new to the field, have likely chosen to join the profession in the last few years, and are incredibly energized and excited to come to work everyday and working to become the best therapist they can be. Interns are still in the active process of honing and improving their skills, and are encouraged in this process by supervisors and faculty.
Interns are not fully licensed, and so they often work on a reduced or sliding-fee scale rather than charging and hourly rate equal to fully licensed therapists or working only with clients who carry health insurance. If you don’t have insurance, have an extremely high deductible, or choose to pay out of pocket for other reasons, interns may offer a price point that fits into your budget a little easier.
If you are someone who would like the expertise of two to three therapists for the price of one; a therapist whose main focus and occupation in life is to learn the most up-to-date and effective theory and techniques; a therapist who has a growing passion and investment in their working and honing their skills; and flexible pricing options, working with a therapist intern is a great option for you.