Learning the Ropes

By Kathleen Ferrick

As the most recent addition to the WINGS blogger team, I figure it would be good form to introduce myself a bit before launching into this week’s post. Some background information regarding the path that has led me to this work with WINGS is also relevant to the gist of the reflections to follow, that’s my hope anyway. In writing this week, I am seeking to voice some of the feelings I have been having lately, so I truly appreciate anyone who takes the time to consider them.

The first time I walked into the WINGS office was sometime this past August to interview for the internship position available to a Masters in Social Work student. My volunteer experience working with survivors of domestic violence allowed me to develop basic crisis management skills, so I thought interning with WINGS would be an ideal opportunity to enhance them. In addition to this desire to work in a therapeutic/counseling type setting, I was drawn to the “survivor-led” approach that WINGS groups promote. I am a firm believer in the idea that people most impacted by a particular issue (childhood sexual abuse in this case), should have the power to decide the best ways in which to address it. When I was notified that I had been selected for the position, I felt a genuine sense of gratitude to have found an internship that resonated so strongly with my core values.

It is hard to believe that I have now been interning at WINGS for nearly 2 months and am almost done with my first quarter of graduate school. At this point I have been co-facilitating a support group as well as beginning to conduct outreach. I am definitely still ‘learning the ropes’ and working to overcome some of my uncertainties regarding my abilities to adequately support survivors. I am naturally more on the introverted side, especially at first, so putting myself ‘out there’ has been somewhat of a challenge, both in the support group setting and out in the community. However, I am recognizing that my innate capacity to listen, combined with deep sense of respect for survivor agency comprise significant assets to this work. When in doubt, I have found comfort in reflecting upon the fact that WINGS exists primarily as a space for survivors to come together and support one another.

It is this awareness that I want to continue to develop, not only during my time at WINGS but throughout my social work career. Instead of feeling this overwhelming need to be doing something more, acknowledging the degree of strength survivors possess is a humbling reminder that it’s not about me. The insight I have already developed thus far in my internship makes me incredibly excited to continue to grow over the next seven months.

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