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Serving the Underserved With Mental Disorders

Last Updated on October 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Originally published October 18, 2017

By Humberto Perez Monge

Mental Health Counseling Graduate Student

I provided individual and family therapy from May to August 2017 at Family Service of El Paso. The experience allowed me to apply the theory and skills I learned as a graduate student to deal with people who had a wide array of mental disorders. Providing treatment to underserved clients who otherwise would not be able to afford it is something that makes me proud to have worked with Family Service.

Humberto Perez Monge
Humberto Perez Monge

This agency provided an extraordinary learning environment. Richard Salcido, the clinical director, always went above and beyond to provide excellent supervision and support, and made sure everyone took advantage of the organization’s learning resources. The atmosphere at Family Service was positive, comfortable and promoted teamwork.

Management assigned clients to me and the other interns on our first day, so our hands-on learning started right away. I was thrilled to be able to counsel actual clients with their problems. One thing that I learned during my clinical work was that each client is different regardless of whether they have the same diagnosis or symptoms. This means that treatment always should be tailored to the individual.

Being able to recognize symptoms and to accurately diagnose is important when working with people’s emotions, but I believe it is even more important to be genuine as a therapist and always have in mind that one is working with a unique human being. I feel this promotes a positive therapeutic relationship that benefits the client’s personal growth as well as the therapeutic process.

My summer experience has helped me pinpoint my interests and skills as a counselor, and which client population I could serve best.

I am grateful to UTEP for providing me with the tools to be successful. The clinical sequence coursework has helped me during my actual clinical work. Although influenced by my academic background as a psychologist in Mexico, the clinical courses provided me with the foundation to work on actual clients’ problems in a structured manner. Also, the support offered by my UTEP professors helped me a lot when working with difficult clients. Just knowing their support is there made me feel comfortable to work with any kind of mental disorder that a client may present.

My short-term goals are to complete my professional examinations so I can graduate in 2018. After that, I want to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Texas. One of my long-term goals is to go into private practice after I am licensed and feel that I have gained enough clinical experience to work on my own.