Are you a psychology, social work, or health related major or professional looking to combine your passion for mental health, social justice, and international travel? Well, have you considered finding counseling internships abroad? Great! You have come to the right place to find the best internship opportunities that will aid you in better positioning yourself in the need-experience-to-get-experience loop that comes after graduation! What better way to set yourself apart from your peers than an international internship? Here is your ultimate guide to finding the best counseling internships abroad.
Popular Locations for Counseling Internships Abroad
The task of searching for international counseling internships may initially seem like a daunting task. How do you pick the right program in the right country?? Help! GoAbroad, to the rescue! This article will help you find meaningful and dynamic mental health counseling internships; so read on, my friends, read on.
This destination is slightly off the beaten path, but it’s becoming an increasingly popular destination for studying and interning abroad. South Africa is a beautiful country with much trauma in its recent history. Over the past several decades South Africa has seen the implementation, destruction, and now the lasting effects of the apartheid regime. Based on this deeply rooted hurt, South Africa is a unique place for a counseling internship. As an intern, you will have the opportunity to see how a country is approaching its own healing.
As a classic study abroad destination, Spain serves as the ideal place for a counseling internship. Spain is ranked number seven by the World Health Organization for their decentralized single-payer healthcare system, which serves as a great opportunity to learn from such a highly renowned system. The primary care services work to prevent mental health issues in order to maintain a balanced overall mental health for its patients. There is a lot to learn from this approach and perspective. With its range of major cities, it is easy to find the perfect internship destination for you.
Ecuador is an ethnically diverse country that is also rich with megadiversity (think plants and reptiles and amphibians—oh my!). This makes for an interesting internship experience in a country that has a strong connection with the natural world. As a country with a history of colonization and a population that has major native ties, life is based both on this mix and contrast of cultures and experiences. If you are also looking for an internship opportunity that allows you to improve your Spanish skills, Ecuador is the place for you. You can find programs that will mix your passions for mental health and your language skills!
The Benefits of Counseling Internships Abroad
Opportunities for undergraduate counseling internships will range from language intensive, locally driven, immersion focused, to student living centers, more independence and autonomy, and bigger cities. No matter where your comforts lie, you will have no problem finding great opportunities for mental health counseling internships!
You may be asking, “why intern abroad when I can intern domestically?” Great question! Here’s why you should put the intern in international: Spending time abroad, whether through travel, work, or study, opens up new doors to major transformational learning opportunities. Especially in the world of psychology and mental health, a person’s surroundings and the system in which they live heavily affects their lives. Taking the opportunity to learn about different populations in relation to their country’s history, their relationship with nature, and the acceptance and openness (or lack thereof) to mental health issues, will teach you a great deal about how to approach different situations in your own future career.
What a great way to learn what may work (or not) in your own practices, right? It’s kind of boring to do the same thing as everyone else, so completing counseling internships abroad will not only set you apart from your peers, it will also teach you so much about yourself and your professional goals. While mental health internship placements are going to vary drastically from program to program and country to country, the variety of options gives you the opportunity to find what will work best for you and your goals.
Learning to live and interact within the context of a new country, possibly with different languages, helps you to learn to better empathize, understand, and connect with people with different backgrounds, which is essential to counseling. Now remember, you are not setting out to solve another country’s set of problems, you are simply setting out to learn from a system different than your own! And learn (and intern) you shall.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Interns in the Counseling Field Abroad
Completing undergraduate counseling internships abroad is a favorable opportunity for you to both share what you love within a new context, and also learn about what you love from a whole new perspective. You will have the opportunity to ask important questions within your new environment, which may change the way you think about your own answers. What is mental health? What is mental illness? What are appropriate treatments for mental illnesses? How does the population view mental health/illness?
You may be surprised by the similarities and differences you find based on your own experiences. These new insights may influence the way you approach mental health counseling moving forward. It may reinforce your beliefs, or it may shake up your whole world. The best way to approach international counseling internships is to be open-minded and allow these experiences to make you question your assumptions. It may be challenging, but we promise, it will be worth it!
Although counseling internships abroad will not be all peaches and cream (it may be more churros and sangria, braais and beer, or the occasional guinea pig), ultimately, an international internship will expand your perspective, encourage you to question your assumptions, and push you outside of your comfort zone. By doing so, you will be unique in what you can offer the field of counseling because you will have an appreciation for a different perspective. You have the flexibility to make this internship opportunity yours. So, take the chance and see where international counseling internships will take you!