Dear Intern

Today I'm a little nervous because I'm thinking about a mandatory Supervisor Training that I attended Friday morning. The part that keeps resonating with me is how the leader said over and over again that we were "Gatekeepers to the profession." I looked that word up because it sounded so, well, serious and official, and here's what I found:

That being said, my intern officially starts her final semester 
before entering our profession this week. 
With me. 
In my office. 
Under my gatekeepingness. 
My friend Lisa in Virginia has interns all the time, and she's such a natural that together they tend to fly through the semesters 
like geese gliding through blue skies in their V formation. 

But now that it's my turn, it seems to me to be, at once, an awesome opportunity and an overwhelming responsibility. So since that training, I've been planning. 

Reviewing ethics, 
rethinking record-keeping, 
reorganizing documents. 

Wondering how I'll best help her be 
the best counselor that she can be. 
Wanting to give her everything, but knowing that most of it 
she'll have to discover on her own. 
Worried that maybe it's been too long since 
I've walked in her shoes.

Since I'm going to have her write a Dear Me letter, I've decided to write a letter to her. I suspect it'll go something like this:

Dear K,

Thank you for choosing to walk alongside of me on this last leg of your journey into our amazing calling. As I imagine the boundless possibilities that lie ahead for you and your clients, words seem inadequate to describe what I'm feeling for you and what you must be feeling yourself. There is so much that I want to share with you and help you realize and discover, but I'm hoping that I can resist the temptation to tell you stuff that you're going to have to come to on your own. When I seem vague, know that it's a part of my plan. I'm eager to coach, to facilitate, to mentor. To show but not tell.

Just come willing to watch and learn, stretch and grow. Be ready to hurt and then help heal. Brace yourself for misery and for magic. Prepare to be worried and then WoWed. Show responsibility and resilience. Carry hope and health in your heart every day. Seek out collaboration and consultation when in doubt or if you're stuck; there's so much strength in being able to admit that you don't know and asking for help. Love yourself for who you are rather than what you can do so that you can help your clients do the same. Give back when you can and pay it forward on occasion.

Remember that kindness, compassion and caring are powerful antidotes that sometimes might be all that a client will need from you that day. Put yourself in their shoes as much and as often as you can and look at life through their eyes when they'll let you. Sometimes it's a really sad or scary lens, but you can do it. Hold tight to your faith, your family, and your friends as you embark on this one-of-a-kind career. 

I pray that, above all, I'll adequately model that self-care is as important (if not more important) than helping others, especially for those of us in the helping professions. Let's always keep the lines of communication opened so that we can have the best experience possible. I'm proud of you and I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to renew and grow.

Peace and plenty,


On second thought, I'm not that scared to be gatekeeper after all.


  1. Loved the letter! When I was interning, my mentor told me the same thing that I will learn more from experience than him telling me. He said he would always be there to help but he wants me to experience teaching not just observe it. I am sure your intern will appreciate this letter.

  2. She's in the best of hands. Regie Routman says we need to be the gatekeepers for sane and sensible practices. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  3. WOW. What a beautiful letter! I wish I could be your intern.
    How lucky this young woman is to have you as her mentor, gatekeeper and colleague...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  4. Thank you, Barb ~ I really needed to read that today as my intern started this week as well!

  5. I am going to be hosting my first intern next fall and I am already nervous because I feel as though I am still learning this profession on a daily basis. I will have to keep this letter in mind. Thanks for sharing Barb!!


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