JFS Intern Reflects on Time at JFS

by Mary Tarbell, M.Ed., RPT-S

Maleah Keller, age 17, has been spending time at JFS this school year.  As part of her senior project at Cedar Cliff High School, she has the opportunity to do an internship related to her intended career.  Maleah wanted to know what play therapy is all about, and so as a junior in March 2018, Maleah asked if she could “job shadow” me for the upcoming school year.  Job shadowing involves spending time following and observing a professional in that job, to give one a sense of what that job really is like. Here, Maleah reflects on her experience so far:

My intended career is to be a forensic psychologist.  I decided to do my internship at Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg because I wanted to see what it’s like to work with children from all different types of backgrounds. After several conversations with my career coordinator and Mary’s supervisor, I was approved for my dream internship. For this internship I had to jump through quite a few hurdles; in early August I submitted my clearances, so that I could be present in sessions with Mary’s child clients. My state police and child abuse clearances came back with no problem, but my FBI fingerprint results were lost within the system and it took forever to find them. For the two months of my internship, Mary and I talked about different types of play therapy. By the end of October, my clearances were all complete, and I am now able to observe sessions every week, with permission from the parent and the child. After a couple months of observing the same child, I now know what Mary means when she said “when a child turns a corner it is a big deal.” A couple of weeks ago a child I was observing incorporated me into their play therapy session. I am still beyond ecstatic that they let me join. For the child to take that step is an example of “turning a corner.”  Not only do I learn more about the world of play therapy, but I also learn more about myself every time I attend a session. I went into this internship expecting to only learn about the world of therapy, but I am leaving a better person every session. Interning for Mary is an eye-opening experience and I am so glad that I am her intern this year. I would just like to thank Mary and her supervisor, Malinda Myers, for allowing me to intern at JFS this year.

The feeling is mutual.  It has been very rewarding to be a part of Maleah’s senior project.  I am impressed by her professionalism and dependability, but even more so by her curiosity and desire to learn about play therapy.  She has her eye on her long-term career goals, while she is managing a busy schedule that includes her senior classes, college applications, a part-time job, and being on the tech crew for the school musical!  I am looking forward to having Maleah around for the remainder of the school year, and continuing to mentor her as she takes the next steps on her journey toward a bright future.