Lorie Lashway-Grant: Practicum Expereince

What I've Learned from Practicum

Junior year I was introduced the Systems Theory. Very interesting information but also very confusing. I am a person that gains relatively little from reading about things and learn a great deal from practical application. I suppose I am more of a "hands on" type of learner.

During the first half of my practicum, which was a wonderful experience for me, I was able to identify and utilize the "Systems Theory". Now don't get me wrong, at first it all felt like someone dismantled a car and told me to put it back together, with my eyes closed and one hand behind my back. But as my practicum continued, I began to understand how the individual pieces fit together.

My primary duty was to find housing for those without homes. Easy, you think? Being that the program I worked with was NOT a Housing First program, finding housing was much more difficult. I had to assess the client to try to figure out what they needed and what caused them to be without a home in the first place. After interviewing them, I had to make decisions and choices as to which services they needed to help them be successful in remaining housed. Some clients were very forthcoming; others were not willing to divulge much information. In many cases I had to utilize the skills of both motivational interviewing as well as appreciative inquiry to get the tiniest bit of information. Slowly but surely, I gained information that helped me move forward. Each client that came to my practicum site needed to be referred by a medical/services provider. AHA! I contacted the case manager that made the referral to find out what was going on with the client. From there, I called here, made appointments there, contacted so-in-so, etc., until I was able to piece together the huge puzzle that was the client.

By utilizing other resources, I achieved my goal. Without these "other" resources, I would not have been able to help my clients. I still marvel at the many different entities it takes to assist a client. I would love to report that it all runs smoothly, yet, alas, it does not. Sometimes the utilizing the systems is like trying to put together a puzzle in which the pieces continually change shape.

Talking about systems theory is interesting; being able to be part of that system and seeing it in action is an incredible experience. I feel invigorated by the way everything worked out, yet I realize every client situation may not end well. I learned the value of making contacts and building professional relationships outside of my organization. In my humble opinion, case management is often only successful when the case manager has knowledge of the systems.

-Lorie Lashway-Grant
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