As a mental health counseling intern, I’d been working with a shy eighth-grade student, Andrea, for a month. Andrea’s mother brought her to counseling because of her refusal to go to school.
I enlisted the school’s help getting Andrea settled in her new school. The school nurse—well acquainted with school phobias—especially with new students—invited Andrea to join her “lunch bunch” which met daily in the nurse’s office.
Although initially hesitant to take this important step, Andrea joined the group and bit by bit her school attendance improved.
The noon lunch group provided her with a group to belong to—important to all of us—but especially to an adolescent.
Moreover, the school nurse, held quarterly outdoor outings for her group, and these activities gave Andrea an extra boost of self-esteem.
I saw Andrea a few more times, spacing our appointments from weekly to bi- monthly to monthly. Then she stopped coming in to therapy.
As a novice therapist, I didn’t know enough to make a follow-up call after Andrea stopped coming to therapy.
For some reason, I thought a follow up call would look pushy or intrusive. But I see now that a follow up would remind Andrea that I cared about her and wanted her to find satisfaction—academically and socially—I her new school.
I also worried that I hadn’t done a good enough job with Andrea-even with evidence to the contrary.
Looking back, I should have asked my supervisor about the issue of follow up.
Although Andrea seemed to benefit from the combination of counseling and the good work done by the school nurse, I could see I had a lot to learn about being a therapist.
And a lot more about myself.