C.A.S.E. is pleased to welcome this year’s MSW interns! Our interns come to us from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and are in the final year of their program. They will spend 2-3 days a week for the next 9-11 months with us, working towards becoming adoption competent therapists. C.A.S.E. is grateful for the support of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation for providing stipends to these students as they complete their internships with us.
Currently, we are immersing them heavily in all the training we have to offer. They can be found learning through public adoption events and will soon be involved in direct services to families and co-facilitating groups. We are providing them high quality clinical supervision with experienced C.A.S.E. therapists and have launched a group learning cohort for them to integrate their learning with their practice. While we have had interns at C.A.S.E. before, this year’s internship program is particularly exciting as it also serves as a pilot project to create a training template for our forthcoming National Demonstration and Teaching Clinic for Adoption Competency. We are thrilled to share our interns’ stories with you and thank them for their contributions.
– Laura Ornelas, Director, Demonstration and Teaching Clinic
Julia Williams, MSW Intern
Many people at C.A.S.E. have a connection to adoption, and I am no exception. The story of both my brother’s adoption and of my birth feels divinely orchestrated. My parents were eager to have another child after having my biological sister who is five years older than me. After getting her hormones tested, my mom was told that there was a “one in a million” chance she would be able to conceive. My parents saw adoption as the logical alternative. Landing on an intercountry adoption from Moscow, Russia, they adopted my brother at the age of one. With the assumption that it would be easier for him to fit in, they changed his name from Terenti to Tyler. My parents were thrilled to add Tyler to the family and settle into their life with what they thought would be just two children. But it turns out the story was not quite complete—against all odds, my mom found herself to be pregnant with me just one year later.
Fast forwarding to age 17, I began my freshman year at the University of Miami as a Biology major, but without a clear direction as to where I would go with it. As I traversed through my biology classes, I was absorbing a lot, but not feeling enough. Passion is important to me and yet, Biology didn’t quite spark that for me. In my sophomore year, I decided to minor in Psychology. I had always been curious about how the mind works and enjoyed “reading” people. As it turned out, my Psychology classes sparked great enthusiasm in me, and I was confident I should add it as a second major.
Concurrently, I began my spiritual path, which caused me to reflect more deeply into what my purpose was here on earth. I had always been the go-to friend for advice, and I really enjoyed being able to help others with their mental and emotional struggles. That said, I was scared to commit to a career path in therapy, because what if I failed? What if it was too hard? Those fears were quelled when I had a major epiphany that I was meant to help people. I was. What exactly that would look like, I wasn’t sure, but this realization felt like a command from a higher source, not a suggestion. The growth that I had witnessed within myself over the years I knew I could somehow share with others, too.
In 2021, I decided to further my career goals by pursuing a MSW degree. In my first-year internship as a graduate student, I had a positive experience working as a Vocational Counselor, but I didn’t get enough experience doing therapy. Being able to get clinical experience was in the forefront of my mind going into this year, and I was prepared to intern at a general mental health practice until things fell through at the last minute. Uncertain of what I was going to do, I asked my advisor to send me a list of other agencies with open positions. When I was sent that list, I was immediately drawn to C.A.S.E. Even though I had never considered working with the adoptive community, my connection to it felt important. When I told my parents, they informed me that my brother had gone to C.A.S.E. in elementary school. This synchronicity only solidified the gut feeling I had, and I was eager to see what would come of it.
Generally, my career interests are varied, but I applied to graduate school with the goal of eventually having a private therapy practice. I specifically want to help women with eating disorders and individuals with complex trauma. As I’ve progressed through the program and learned more about all that social work entails, I’ve also grown an interest in social justice work, like activism and advocacy. Why not write books, too? There is really no shortage of work I can do with this degree. Now with my position at C.A.S.E., I am given the opportunity to help others in a meaningful and personal way. Though I have worked with children before in a service year with AmeriCorps, I am coming in with a “beginner’s mind.” I am eager to put into practice everything I have been learning once I begin working with clients. I have a feeling this will be a pivotal chapter in my life that will set me up for the chapters to come. I think it is important to never be too rigid with our goals and to leave room for things to change. “Expect the unexpected” is a reality we can all learn to embrace. The mysterious, surprising nature of life is what makes it magical. What will always remain certain is that I want to make a world a brighter place.