Local mental health center internship develops psychology major’s skillset


After exploring different counseling centers, Karabella Hernandez ’22 discovered OneEighty as an opportunity to grow her therapy skills and psychology knowledge. Near The College of Wooster campus, the organization serves as Wooster’s leading mental health, addiction, and domestic violence support center. In her APEX Fellowship at OneEighty, Hernandez shadowed counselors in their client sessions, assisted with administrative tasks and provided feedback to her supervisor on department operations, which provided firsthand experience in her future career path.

“I truly appreciate that my APEX Fellowship allowed me to take this otherwise unpaid position and helped me to thread it into my career plans more holistically.” 

—Karabella Hernandez

What interests you most about the work you did? What were some of the things you did each day?

“Perhaps the most thrilling part for me was getting to shadow counselors with actual clients. As someone who learns best from observation, I picked up so much from these sessions on communication between counselors and clients, boundaries, ethics, and clinical documentation. Beyond shadowing individual, couple, and group therapy, I also attended various staff and community meetings, provided feedback for multiple staff members, made and recorded presentations for the department, and assisted my supervisor on a variety of organizational and technological tasks. This all contributed directly to the development of skills relevant to my field.”


Who was your Fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position?

“Professor Matt Mariola [associate professor of environmental studies] was an absolutely wonderful faculty mentor to have for my summer experience. While facing many personal and professional challenges over the course of my internship, Professor Mariola was incredibly supportive and engaged in meaningful dialogue with me regarding my reflection essays and outside of them. The questions he posed to me pushed me to consider my experiences from many different angles and to make valuable connections between them, along with my education and career goals at large.”


What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward into your career?

“The knowledge I gained regarding OneEighty’s operations in the outpatient department showed me how counseling centers operate and how they interact more largely with community partners or other mental health organizations. This logistical knowledge on components of the job ranging from electronic health records to intricate interpersonal relations really did help me pull my psychology basis from the more abstract or theoretical to more direct and concrete. I find this to be incredibly valuable as I move forward with grad school and getting my license. In addition, the professional communication and collaboration skills I developed in working with my supervisor and others, as well as the new boundaries and confidentiality ethics I learned to navigate, will be essential to continuing on my career path.”


How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you?

“Getting to talk informally with so many counselors about the path to their careers and learn about what they do in their careers was incredibly beneficial for molding my own career trajectory. While I’ve known for a long time that I want to be a counselor, the experiences with practicing counselors only solidified this drive and helped clarify in my mind some of the finer logistical points of getting there, such as what a graduate thesis could look like and how licensing works. In addition, talking to my supervisor and OneEighty’s clinical director about grad school and a Ph.D. vs. a Doctor of Psychology helped me visualize these paths better as I work to decide which specific graduate programs I want to apply to. I feel better prepared now to move my career plans from the abstract to the concrete. ”


Is there anything else you want to share about your APEX Fellowship?

“Having an APEX Fellowship in conjunction with this particular internship encouraged me to reflect more critically on my experience in ways that I may not have thought before. I truly appreciate that my APEX Fellowship allowed me to take this otherwise unpaid position and helped me to thread it into my career plans more holistically. And now I have continued to work with OneEighty in a part-time position and provide direct clinical services. I am also interviewing with counseling Ph.D. programs and it is incredibly rewarding to cite my experiences at OneEighty as evidence of my skills. My experiences at OneEighty have definitely helped me get to where I am today!”

Posted in Experiential Learning on November 5, 2021.