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My Internship Experience – Brenna

The idea of beginning an internship at a place you have never been, and with people you have never met, is terrifying! Adding the fact that I was doing this at the age of 45 was dreadful. Self-doubt began seeping in and I feared that I had made a huge mistake making a career change at this point in my life. THEN there was the fact that I have always had to minimize my personality in professional settings; I was anxious about speaking too fast, or too loud, or being “too much”. Then I walked into Aspire, and my fears immediately diminished.

You know the feeling you get when you realize you found a home away from home? A place that is warm and inviting, kind of like a trendy cottage?

Welcome to Aspire.

This place just felt right, and then I met the team. After 8 months of working with these unbelievably inspiring women, I can unequivocally state that they are the definition of the word TEAM. They are women who provide judgement-free unwavering support, to their clients, to one another, and, to the interns who never stop asking questions and seeking guidance.

My opportunity to intern at Aspire is one of which I can speak highly about. I was able to provide hundreds of hours of individual counselling to all ages and genders. I was met with clients who were willing to be vulnerable and were dedicated to making lasting change. I was privileged to be a part of empowering clients, who discovered and implemented solutions that improved their lives. I was fortunate to collaborate with other mental health professionals and facilitate workshops to our community on various mental health topics.

From the day I had my first client right up until my last, I have never once felt like I was alone. I had found my community.

Despite my enthusiasm and willingness to tackle everything related to counselling, my experience and opportunity would not have been successful without a guide (Spirit guide? Sensei? Ms. Miyagi?). My supervisor, Dawn, is an artist when it comes to providing support; she has created a balance between autonomy and collaboration that I have never been part of before. She challenged me to think critically, practically, and analytically; she leads by example - which I both appreciate and respect. She has fostered the development of over 40 interns, and continues to provide dedicated, comprehensive support and guidance to every member of her team. Something else that really stood out to me about Aspire was how there was never a spotlight on hierarchy - every member of the team was treated with genuine kindness and respect, from owner to intern. I was part of a team who never made me feel “less than”. This team motivated me to learn all I could, to push my own boundaries, and most importantly, that connection feeds our souls.

Through my time as an Aspire intern, not only did I develop professionally, but I also experienced a significant amount of personal growth. For the first time in my professional career, I finally gave myself permission to be me, because I finally felt accepted for who I am. I am a dedicated, hard working, passionate human who has a laundry list of quirks. Through their acceptance, I was able to be my authentic self which significantly improved my overall learning experience. Not only am I a better therapist because I chose to complete my internship at Aspire, but I am also a better person overall. This experience forever changed me, and I will never be able to thank these women enough.

Although scheduling did not allow for me to work extensively with each member of the team, those who greeted me each week, truly left a mark. To Dawn, thank you for taking a chance on me and welcoming me to your team. You are a truly inspiring human being and your dedication to your team and the entire profession of counselling is unmatched. To Sheila, thank you for always being the calm in the storm and reminding us that everyone feels inadequate sometimes, but to just keep believing in ourselves. To Vanessa, your humour, wit, and laughter that fills a room is a thing of beauty and your passion for this vocation is truly moving. To Angela, every single one of us would be lost without you, so thank you for not only keeping everything in order, but for your willingness to be our sounding board and our refuge. To Denelle, my intern partner, my daily phone call, and my case consultation guru, your camaraderie was appreciated more than you know. To Kelly, collaborating with you was an opportunity that I am sincerely grateful for, you have a light that shines so bright! To Jen, you were the polkaroo to my internship because I hardly ever got to see you, but I thank you for the time we did get to chat and for your insight. Lastly, to Melodie, you describe yourself as a big kid at heart, and as one myself, thank you for making me feel seen, accepted, and comfortable. I always say that I admire how authentic you are, and I mean that from the depths of my soul.

Team Aspire for Life!

Brenna McKerrall

Psychology Intern, 2021-2022

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