My experience as an occupational therapy intern at Berkeley and Eleanor Mann residential treatment center (RTC) introduced me to the transformative learning model, which forced me to step outside of my comfort zone on many levels, resulting in personal and professional growth that I truly feel could not have otherwise been achieved. Throughout my internship, I have described my daily experiences and emotions as a roller coaster ride. There were moments of clarity when I felt as though everything suddenly made sense, and it is also true that there were moments of complete chaos, which left me feeling as though I should probably start looking into another profession. Amongst this roller coaster of emotions, one thing remained certain, I was inspired.
Each day as I continued to work with the residents, it became clearer to me that we were on this transformational journey together. Although, I was there to provide them with occupational therapy services and teach them strategies to increase successful participation in daily activities, they were also teaching me and helping me to grow both personally and professionally. I was able to build a therapeutic bond with several of the residents, which provided access to information regarding their interests and strengths, as well as difficulties that they experienced with participation in daily occupations. This information allowed me to utilize their strengths and interests to facilitate motivation for participation in occupations that they previously found difficult. Working collaboratively with the other interns, mentors, staff members, and the residents, I was able to help them identify modifications and coping strategies, which helped them to overcome barriers to participation. I feel extremely fortunate to have witnessed their progress, as I believe that their experiences of success will encourage them to approach barriers differently in their future endeavors within the RTC, as well as when they return to the community.
As my internship comes to an end, I find myself back on the emotional roller coaster. I am sad that I will be leaving the other interns, mentors, staff, and residents that I’ve had the opportunity to grow with over the last 12 weeks; however, I also feel inspired to search, dig deeper, and step outside of my comfort zone with hopes to continue my transformation as I begin my next fieldwork experience, as well as in future occupational therapy practice.
Megan Hunt recently completed an occupational therapy internship at the Berkeley and Eleanor Mann Residential Treatment Center at Sheppard Pratt’s Towson campus. She has a B.S. in Behavioral Science from Wilmington University, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Misericordia University.