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Hi! My name is Sarah Ashworth, and I am a senior from Cary, North Carolina. I am majoring in Psychology with minors in Cognitive Science and Spanish Translation and Interpretation. Over the past three semesters, I have served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Emotions and Social Interactions in Relationships Lab under Dr. Sara Algoe, analyzing the behaviors of relationship partners engaging in capitalization interactions. I have also worked on Dr. Andrea Hussong’s Raising Grateful Children study through the Family Journeys Co-Lab, examining how parents discuss gratitude with their children. After graduating, I intend to obtain my PhD in Clinical or Counseling Psychology in order to begin a career providing therapy to survivors of gender-based violence. As a Gil Intern with Freedom House Recovery Center, I have had the opportunity to gain experience working with trauma survivors and learn about behavioral health care in the nonprofit sector.

Freedom House Recovery Center is a non-profit behavioral health care provider that supports children and adults affected by substance use disorder and other mental health concerns across North Carolina. In Chapel Hill, they operate a child and adolescent outpatient clinic, an adult outpatient clinic, a detox center, a men’s halfway house, and a women’s halfway house. I primarily work with Kimberly Reyes, the program manager for the Maggie Alvis Women’s House in Chapel Hill. The Maggie Alvis House serves up to twelve women at a time who are recovering from addiction, including individuals who are dually diagnosed with a mental illness. This program provides up to six months of residential treatment that aims to prepare their clients for successful independent living.

My responsibilities at the Maggie Alvis House include supporting clients both directly and indirectly. Directly, I verify the safety and cleanliness of resident living areas. Indirectly, I scan, file, and organize clients’ confidential records and assist my mentor with other administrative tasks, including interviewing potential clients, completing the intake process, and discharge paperwork. At the beginning of the semester, I had the opportunity to gain training and certification in medication administration and conflict resolution. Additionally, one of the most rewarding parts of my internship has been the opportunity to observe a weekly women’s trauma therapy group. This group is led by a licensed therapist and involves residents as well as outpatient clients. I noticed that, beyond this group, Freedom House is unable to offer extensive resources for clients that are also survivors of gender-based violence. Consequently, I compiled a resource binder detailing the organizations in Orange and its surrounding counties that provide care specifically for survivors, as well as other programs that survivors may need, such as those providing free or low-cost housing, meals, and gynecological care, and made this information accessible to current and potential clients.

My Gil Internship experience has been incredibly valuable and taught me a great deal about behavioral and non-profit health care. Interning at Freedom House has also led me to foster an interest in the relationship between gender-based violence victimization and substance use, which I intend to explore in graduate school. I am extremely grateful to the Karen M. Gil program for allowing me the opportunity to strengthen my clinical skills and knowledge base through interning at Freedom House Recovery Center.

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