Goodbyes and hellos
WIA WELCOMES TWO MORE INTERNS TO THE BIG SKY COMMUNITY
Hannah McKinney and Ellie Jorgensen, Women In Action’s (WIA) two interns, will celebrate graduation virtually this spring. WIA welcomes two new interns, Jillian Martin and Ruby Pauli, to the team.
Martin is from Washington and has worked individually with clients thus far. “I’m really passionate about mindfulness and I like to bring a lot of that to my counseling practice,” she said. With an undergraduate degree in environmental planning policy and past jobs as a ski instructor and in restaurants, Martin saw counseling as a way to connect all the things she held dear. Pauli is from Big Timber, Mont. and received her undergraduate degree in community health from Montana State University (MSU). “I think mental health is a really important piece of community health,” she said. Like Martin, Pauli has worked with individual clients and found her parents’ peoplefocused jobs to inform her style. She values relationships and believes everyone needs someone they can feel safe with. Both women are looking to work with couples and adolescents, too.
“Twelve weeks in and having to deal with a pandemic, it’s really weird,” Pauli said when asked what changes the coronavirus brought to their experiences. The internship occurs during the second year of the counseling program at MSU, a year with a pandemic in this case. Martin and Pauli are interns with the Human Development Clinic (HDC) in Bozeman and operate the Big Sky HDC clinic in collaboration with WIA. They begin taking clients May 18 in Big Sky. WIA started telehealth services, offered for free until the end of April for now, on March 19 in response to the coronavirus. “It changes the energy a little bit, or the connection between the client and counselor. You do kind of have to figure out different ways of connecting,” Martin said. Both women had clients before the coronavirus and had to navigate switching to telehealth, exploring how their clients’ needs may have adjusted. Martin addresses the ‘weirdness’ point blank with her clients, noting how much harder it is to maintain eye contact.
“The fact that we do live in such a rural state, it’s a really important thing for practitioners to be able to provide telehealth services, and telehealth doesn’t always necessarily replace that in person connection. I think for some people it’s the only option they have, and I think it’s really important,” Pauli said.
Both women hoped to use telehealth as a part of their future practices. They see it as an educational opportunity now, being forced into it and learning to adapt to a virtual counseling environment. People have and continue to respond to changes brought by the coronavirus in different ways. Some immediately were affected, and some have not yet been. Being aware of these experiences is pivotal.
“For me, personally, this definitely takes time to process,” Pauli said. She described herself as an extrovert and was grateful to be able to quarantine with her parents at the beginning. It allowed her to feel safe returning home as the pandemic progressed, knowing her parents only interacted with each other. Martin is more of an introvert and spent time slowing down her pace. When feeling lonely, she ‘sits’ with the desire to connect before reaching out to make sure she is not doing so out of fear.
As soon as they can, both women will begin seeing clients in person in Big Sky. They do not anticipate taking clients in person this summer, but will continue to evaluate Jean Behr, Executive Director of WIA, said. They are hoping for full caseloads, 24 clients between the two of them. Big Sky, as a community, continues to grow and remind those in and out of the resources it has to offer. “I think it’s really important that we take our roles as being part of the community very seriously,” Pauli said. “The people of Big Sky hold a special place in my heart. I am sad to leave the internship, particularly during these circumstances and will look back fondly at the incredible people I met and the therapeutic relationships that were built between us. I am very excited for the incoming interns and the opportunities they have in front of them,” McKinney said in parting.