In early September I started my foundation field placement. The focus of my field placement this year is adolescent substance abuse. I am assisting the Director of Adolescent Services at an area substance abuse outpatient treatment provider. We are one of several approved providers for the Wake County Public Schools ACE (Alternative Counseling and Education) program. ACE was started in the Wake County Publice Schools more than 10 years ago as an alternative to long term suspension for middle school and high school students who get in trouble in school for alcohol and/or drug-related issues. The program requires the student to attend Multifamily substance abuse group treatment in order to avoid long term suspension. This means that the students are required to bring at least one parent with them to each treatment group. This makes for an interesting dynamic as the parent(s) and student attend treatment together, along with other student and parent groups who are also in the program. This field placement is an excellent opportunity for me. Adolescent work is an entirely new population for me and one I am eager to learn more about. I am now about six weeks into my field placement and have already had several opportunities to learn from an experienced substance abuse counselor/therapist who has several years of experience in working with adolescents. I am beginning to gradually become more active myself during the groups, after pretty much shadowing the primary counselor the first few groups. I am told that I may be asked to facilitate a group on my own before too long, or perhaps co-facilitate a group with another graduate level intern, as the numbers in the group continue to grow. I look forward to this opportunity with just a little bit of apprehension.
This past week I had the opportunity to conduct my first adolescent substance abuse assessment. I felt like it went well and was able to discuss this experience with our Director of Adolescent Services afterward. I look forward to the opportunity of doing more adolescent assessment in the coming weeks and months. I am truly grasping the importance of combining field placement experiences with our classroom learning and am grateful that here at The School of Social Work they place such an important emphasis on our field work.