By Kaitlin Olsen, LCMHC, Life Stone Intern Liaison

Interns are counselors in training who have completed most, if not all, of their coursework for their master’s or doctoral program. They have already had some experience working with clients through at least one prior field experience (often called “practicum”), and frequently have additional experience working in supportive roles within the mental health field as well. Their internship is the last step before graduating and receiving their license.
Interns receive a lot of supervision. Most interns have around 3 hours of supervision weekly, both from their on-site clinical supervisor and through their university. Supervision is a space to consult with peers, process their cases (while maintaining client confidentiality), and ask questions. They receive feedback from other interns, their professors, as well as from their clinical supervisor, who is a fully licensed therapist. And not only do interns receive more feedback more regularly, but they are also more likely to ask questions when needed and actually be receptive to the feedback they receive.
Although all counselors are required to keep themselves current on new treatment methods through continuing education courses, interns spend many hours each week learning about the latest evidence-based treatment approaches, techniques, theories, and research. Because of this (as well as other reasons on this list) research has shown that intern therapists are just as effective at helping their clients as licensed therapists.
One of the primary benefits of working with an intern is that you can often get started right away. In the current mental health climate, almost every therapist is fully booked or has a wait list. It is common for a client to have to reach out to many therapists, get on multiple wait lists, and sometimes wait several months for a spot to open up. Interns often have immediate availability and if you’re looking for support right now, you can expect to receive services in the next few weeks.
The cost for therapy can be a barrier for many clients, particularly if needing to pay out of pocket. At Life Stone, interns charge $80 per session, which is greatly reduced from a a licensed therapist who charge up to $140 per session.
Interns are enthusiastic, energetic, and excited to put all of their recent education to work with the clients they’ve been training for. While interns may not readily have all the answers for their clients, they have the eagerness to speak to appropriate professionals, seek the necessary information, or look into different approaches they haven’t yet tried. If you, as the client, reference some issue or identity or experience that the intern is unfamiliar with, they will likely start researching that topic before the next session. Interns want to learn and grow along with you.

Interns keep a smaller case load than licensed therapists because they aren’t doing therapy full-time as their career yet and therefore take fewer clients. Having fewer clients is helpful because the therapist can focus more of their attention on the clients that they do have. This means they often have time to do more planning and prepping between sessions. So for a lower cost, you get even more thought and attention.
A therapist in training is a pretty blank slate to start – they don’t have any preconceived notions or expectations about you based on past experiences with clients. They’re simply here to learn, support, hold space, offer education and tools, and find their own style as a therapist. Although excellent counselors treat each client as an individual, there can be a temptation among clinicians who do repetitive work to overlook possible alternative explanations for some things because they have had many similar cases. Interns, however, are eager to learn about literally everything, often do extra research and planning between sessions, and are open to trying to new techniques or exploring other possible explanations.
Many people assume interns are young with limited life experience, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Many counseling students are non-traditional students working toward a second career. Some interns also have the unique experience of working in supportive roles within the mental health field and have returned to school to obtain education towards licensure as a therapist. It is important to remember that years of clinical experience is just one tool in a therapist’s tool kit. Good therapists often possess an intuitive ability to help guide their clients towards healing and growth – their education and skills simply enhance their professional skills and promote ethical and clinically sound behaviors.
When clients call our office looking for a therapist, one of the reasons they feel turned off by an intern is because they are hesitant to embark on a therapeutic relationship that may have an end date. While it’s true that an intern may only available for around 9-12 months, there are also some tremendous benefits to a short-term approach to therapy. Short-term approaches have an impressive ability to challenge any avoidance tendencies. The limited amount of time can push you, as the client, to seek change a little faster. It can also be helpful if you have never tried therapy before. Working with an intern is a great introduction to therapy as it helps you learn what works best for you in a therapeutic relationship. If you’re on a wait list for another therapist, working with an intern could be a great opportunity to receive support while you’re waiting. After all, whenever you make the call to a therapist is when you are the most motivated to dive in. Additionally, many interns at Life Stone stay with us even after they graduate and become licensed, giving you the opportunity to continue working with them.
And of course, last but not least, one great reason to work with an intern as your therapist is to help them become a better counselor! To continue growing as a professional, they need experience. Lots of it. Additionally, interns can be exceptionally open to feedback from you about your therapy experience. In providing constructive criticism about your experience, you are helping the intern grow and learn how to best support you and be a better therapist for all of the clients to follow you.
We acknowledge that interns may not suitable for everyone. However, we recommend keeping an open mind and considering one to help you start your healing journey. Intern therapists bring many benefits, our scheduling staff can help you identify your needs and preferences to ensure a good therapeutic fit when scheduling.
FYI: Life Stone Interns undergo a meticulous selection process led by our clinical directors, ensuring you have the best to choose from. They have already commenced on their journey to becoming EMDR trained and they participate in EMDR Consultations as well as other in-house clinical development opportunities regularly. We are confident our intern therapists can provide a unique and enriching therapeutic experience, marked by collaboration, growth, and fresh perspectives.

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