WHAT AND WHERE: Hired as counselor at Counselling and Health Services, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
HOW: When applying for the master’s program, Bridges knew she was drawn to clinical social work and was intrigued about the opportunity to complete her final field internship in New Zealand. Her first internship was with Communities in Schools at Manor High School.
“At Manor High School I was able to develop my clinical skills and learn about the power of the therapeutic relationship and its importance for my personal style of practice. When I found out that the New Zealand placement for final field was at a university counseling center, I knew it was the perfect fit for me,” she said.
Bridges loved everything about her final field internship: the opportunity to be immersed in a new country, the student population, and most of all, the support and camaraderie among the members of her team. She feels lucky that a permanent counselor position opened while she was there, and that she was able to apply for it.
“The New Zealand government has recently launched a pilot program to support young adults with mild to moderate mental health needs. This program funded new counselor positions and I will be filling one of them. The emphasis on mental health in New Zealand is incredible,” she said.
THE FUTURE: Bridges is looking forward to further developing her identity as a clinician, learning more about New Zealand’s Māori culture, and continue working with students at Counselling and Health Services. When asked if she sees herself settling in New Zealand for good, she says she is happy to take things one day at a time.
“In the past, I would have been terrified by this uncertainty, but my experience abroad has taught me to live more in the moment. I am still a planner by nature — I love lists and schedules — but I’ve come to terms with not knowing everything.”