Aubree Papaj, MS has been interning with me for almost a year and well deserves her own blog post so people can get to know her style, history, what drew her into the field and what she specializes in. She has daytime and evening hours available and sees individuals, couples and also runs groups. I hope you enjoy my interview with her!
In your opinion, what are some advantages seeing an intern therapist versus a licensed therapist?
A client who sees an intern has several advantages. The first and most obvious is the fee for counseling is much lower. An intern charges less for counseling but has the same educational background as a fully licensed therapist. The difference is that an intern is still working towards licensure while a licensed therapist has taken the state exams and gained the required number of hours to obtain a license. Another advantage to seeing an intern is the fact that the intern receives weekly supervision from a licensed therapist so the client has the benefit of having two therapists problem solving a treatment plan. Clients will only see the intern during session, but will receive the input from the supervisor as well as the intern. A third advantage to seeing an intern is the intern has graduated school within the last few years and is up to date on the most recent models of therapy.
Why did you choose private practice over working at an agency or other organization?
I chose to work in a private practice setting over an agency because I have more freedom in a private practice. For example, I enjoy running therapy groups and I am able to create my own curriculum for a group working in a private practice. Another advantage is that I am able to work from my chosen modality of therapy with clients rather than a specific modality required by an agency. This is a benefit to the client because I am able to tailor therapy to the client’s needs rather than be forced to work from a specific model of therapy. I naturally work from wherever the client is at in life and I enjoy private practice because it enables me to work with the client’s needs instead of around them.
What are your specialties and what issues do you enjoy working with?
I am trained and like working with varying struggles including relationship difficulties, anxiety and depression, work and life balance, personal growth, communication, anxiety and depression and life transitions. Because I was exposed to such a heavy emphasis on sex therapy in my Masters program, I gravitated towards helping survivors of sexual abuse work through their trauma. I guess I am attracted to working with trauma survivors in general because I am able to empathize with the darkness they experience and help guide them toward the light. It is such a rewarding experience to work in the trenches of trauma and help pull people out of their suffering. Watching clients grow and utilize their inner strengths is something that brings me so much joy, that it is hard to explain. When a client begins to heal, they walk differently. There is a way that healed people hold themselves that projects strength and confidence. That is what I like doing as a therapist.
What is your goal as a therapist and what prompted you to get into the field?
My goal as a therapist is to be part of mending peoples’ lives. I am not narcissistic enough to believe I can single-handedly change a person’s life because the reward for that hard work goes to the client. What I do believe is that the support, guidance, resources and encouragement that I offer will help them on their journey toward healing. I was prompted to get into the field of therapy after witnessing so much suffering in the world and understanding that my unique gifts of compassion, thinking outside the box, and seeing through a person’s faults to the true beauty on the inside are enough to help relieve some of the suffering.
How long have you been practicing as a therapist and what training and life experiences have helped you become a better therapist?
I have worked as a therapist in private practice since January 2013. Before finding work in a private practice here in San Diego, I worked out in Las Vegas at a wellness center and the UNLV Center for Individual, Couple, and Family Counseling. During my time in Las Vegas, I completed my Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My training at UNLV has prepared me for working with individuals, couples, families, and groups from all backgrounds and cultures. I worked under the top sex therapists in the country at UNLV as the program specialized in different aspects of sex therapy.
I have personally always had an interest in how relationships work, and as a result, have studied psychology from a young age. I was the kid who always considered every aspect of an issue when confronted with a problem so I have always been someone who has thought outside the box. I believe this has helped me to be a very detailed person and thoughtful therapist. I have always had to be a good communicator throughout my life because I was raised in a military family and had family all over the world. This has given me the opportunity to experience many different cultures and places. This exposure has helped me to be very accepting of people for their culture, and whatever circumstances in their lives that has made them unique.
Anything else you would like to say about yourself for someone considering working with you?
I have been told by friends, family, and colleagues that I am a very accepting and warm person. I can see myself that I am an observer and that I am very careful with my words and actions. I believe that this makes for a very safe environment in which to open up in therapy and allows clients to be vulnerable with me. I think that this is where the majority of healing occurs for clients: healing through a safe attachment to a person who will not take advantage of their vulnerability, but instead, allow them to become strong even when being vulnerable.