My name is Melanie Martin and I am a second year community counseling student. This semester happens to be one of the busiest of my life as I balance class work, my Graduate Assistantship and my internship at a local counseling center. Maybe if you’ve ever lived abroad or been through some intense training program you can understand how such a powerful experience, where you are constantly learning new things and having new experiences, can be both exhausting and incredibly rewarding.
So at my internship site we work with adolescents and families with behavioral or substance abuse issues. Part of our work involves some court ordered activities like Urine Drug Screens. I was not aware of this when I began my internship, but part of my job now includes occasionally watching a female adolescent as she completes the urine screen. (We have to make sure they don’t cheat the test).
My supervisors told me nonchalantly that this would happen one day, so I embarked on my first “pee adventure.” It is always awkward for everyone, but luckily I had a teen that I suppose was particularly comfortable with her body, and she just went in there and got it done. (The whole thing is slightly ironic because I was that kid who would NOT produce the required sample in a cup at the Dr.’s office, much to the dismay of all the nurses - and my mom, who had to cart along a Tupperware container to the mall to catch my sample when I couldn’t possibly hold it anymore, and then bring it back to the doctor’s office later that day.)
I like to think this new experience enhances my professional empathy? We’ll go with that.
Lesson number one as a substance abuse counselor: Be ok with watching people pee in a cup, but have empathy for those clients who just find it weird and can’t go without multiple cups of water.