My name is Alice Novinte and I am a senior majoring in psychology. In addition to being a Gil intern, I also work at the UNC Center for Student Success as a peer mentoring program assistant for the Minority Advisory Program and as a research assistant in the Social Neuroscience and Health Lab. My research interests are racism-related stress and correlates between discrimination and mental health outcomes for people with multiple marginalized identities. I have explored these interests as a McNair scholar through my summer research project, “The Role of Indirect Exposure to Police Violence in Black Adolescent Suicide Risk and Behavior” and through my work in the SNH lab. After graduation, I will attend graduate school for clinical mental health counseling.
This semester, I am completing my Gil internship with the UNC Tobacco Treatment Program. The Tobacco Treatment Program (TTP) offers tobacco cessation counseling to individuals and offers training for outside organizations and communities to help them develop their own tobacco treatment interventions. My mentor at TTP is Susan Trout, the interim director. Susan is a licensed clinical social worker and a tobacco treatment specialist.
So far at TTP, I have had the opportunity to shadow counselors, attend group meetings, and help compile patient resources. Before becoming a Giller, I had never shadowed, so the experience has been very rewarding. Classroom learning is important, but hands-on learning allows you to learn from experts and to apply what you have only learned in theory to real-life situations. I have learned a lot from the counselors at TTP through shadowing individual and group sessions as well as peer supervision meetings. For those who don’t know, a peer supervision meeting is an opportunity for counselors to share any barriers they are experiencing in treating a patient effectively and receive advice, from their coworkers, on how they should proceed in treating the patient. Attending these meetings has taught me that even professionals need help from their peers and that there is not always a clear answer on how to approach a patient. These are the types of lessons that I can carry with me to graduate school and my professional career. Shadowing counseling sessions has also been very impactful for me because it gives me a chance to be face to face with patients and learn how counselors use different techniques to help their clients feel motivated and empowered to make necessary changes in their life.
Overall, I have already learned a lot in my short time at TTP. For instance, before starting my internship I knew very little about tobacco/nicotine dependence and nothing at all about the different treatments that are available for tobacco cessation. Now, just four weeks after my internship start date, I know all of the medications available to treat nicotine dependence and the techniques used in addiction counseling. Working at TTP has taught me so much and provided me with the opportunity to finally apply the knowledge that I have learned throughout my four years at UNC. More importantly, it has instilled me with increased confidence in my ability to someday be a counselor.