Each year, our counseling psychology students spread out across the Greater Seattle Area—and in some cases, the world—to intern at a variety of organizations. It’s one of the first opportunities for students to step into their future vocation.
Brittany Cassavant, a fourth-year MACP student, shared with us how her story has impacted her studies here and the empowering nature of her clinical internship with Greenlake Wellness Group.
Q: What initially led you to apply to and attend The Seattle School?
I was initially drawn to the school thanks to someone who was in my fellow undergrad program. We were looking at the website one day and it seemed like a completely different institution than I had heard of. I was in that spot of being clueless about what I wanted to do and felt this pressure to go to graduate school after minoring in religion. Ultimately, I think it was the holistic approach. From being in academia and in school for so long, I didn’t feel like I had found an approach that fit me. I was good at regurgitating information and memorizing, but I’m a kinesthetic learner, so the embodiment of the school was really what spoke to me.
Q: Can you talk about the ways your story has impacted, shaped or inspired your studies?
That’s another part of where I couldn’t have predicted how much growth this school would bring. My story feels so tied to the very reason why I came here, and why I learn the way I do. The way that I’m able to connect with people in a certain way, or see people in a certain way. I didn’t know how I am or why I am the way I am, and this school really carved out the space to dig into those questions and to do that through therapy. A lot of therapy was how I came to connect more to my story and learning how that shows up for me in the classroom. Some of my story had limited me to where I could flourish and where I could thrive. This school allowed me to see my own uniqueness, my own offerings.
Q: What breaks your heart, and how are your studies informed by that kind of shattering?
It sounds really simple, but I’ve been connected to naming it from the beginning of my studies here: When people aren’t seen and heard. I’m thinking about trauma and how that goes hand in hand. When people have their voices and power taken away from them, and that contributes to them not being seen and being able to step into who they actually are. I think that my studies have been correlating with that from the start. For a significant amount of my time here, I was trying to take everyone’s voice in and absorb it, to make something that was my own. Slowing down really allowed me to see that we all have our own way of engaging where we see our need, the brokenness, and the heartbreak of what that is.
Q: Describe your current internship, including your title and day-to-day experiences.
I’m at Greenlake Wellness Group where I’m a clinical intern. It is a group practice that was started by an alumna about two years ago. It has a lot of the very things that I hope to create in my own center one day, such as a massage therapist, chiropractor, and I believe there used to be an acupuncturist along with 12 clinical therapists. Initially, I didn’t think that I would end up at more of a group, private practice setting, but I found from the moment I started to connect with Greenlake Wellness that it had the very support that I was looking for, and that I found to be the most important thing starting out.
My day-to-day is largely my own creation, except for two days where we have a consultation group with seven therapists that are more seasoned. I’ve appreciated the balance of having the support there weekly to hear about where seasoned therapists are also questioning as they’ve been in the work for quite some time, while they also want to hear how I’m doing and where I need support. It’s been really empowering from the beginning that the practitioners have wanted us to be ourselves in the work and to not approach it from any specific way other than how we want to. Coming from this school, I didn’t know that I needed that. But after having taken in so many different voices about how they approach therapy, it’s been incredible to have an internship program where I get to find my own way in this work and figure out what it looks like for me to bring myself in a healing manner with someone.
Q: What are your hopes, dreams, and desires as they relate to your future vocation?
My short-term vision is being around people in this field that can support me and help me as I start out as a therapist. I do want to be a therapist. I don’t know in what capacity, or how that looks sustainable for me, but I definitely have found that the work is so meaningful and I feel my own purpose connected to it. Long-term, I would love to have my own practice center where I can connect my passion for embodiment and somatic therapy, being connected to the body, with a holistic approach to therapy. I would love to have artistic expression be part of this center where there’s therapy, there’s healing for the body, and there’s space to be creative.
Q: How has your time at The Seattle School prepared you for this internship?
It was definitely quite a buildup to learn so much beforehand, and, in my case, doing the program a little bit longer, having had three years of learning so much theory and the practicum experiences of engaging in what it’s like to sit with someone and hear their story. It’s a whole other thing to enter an internship and be with a person in a room and not have to follow some sort of script.
All this preparation helped me realize that the way that I’m going to be most helpful for someone is to really listen to what’s happening in me, and be present to that, and not just repress it, shove it down, or ignore it. I am a powerful tool in this work and that cannot be ignored. What I gained here is knowing that I have all of this in my mind full of theory, and all these different tools I can incorporate that may be helpful for a wide variety of people, because therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all. But at the end of the day, I know that what I have to have with each person is myself.
In my concluding time here, I’m realizing that I certainly don’t have things figured out, but I feel a lot closer to who I am. And at the same time, that will constantly be evolving. I feel a lot closer to my complexity, my heart, my kindness, my sensitivity. I think that in large part, coming to this place was a way that I really came to know myself.