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Strawberry Fields Inc.
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Shou En

Major: Psychology
Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this enrichment experience through a friend I knew from the Community Help Centre. She used to work with Strawberry Fields Inc. and introduced me to this great opportunity after she knew I was looking for more hands-on experience.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I started working as a Psychiatric Direct Support Specialist in December, 2016. One of my favorite things about this job is that it relates to what I want to be doing in the future. The mission of Strawberry Fields Inc. is to empower individuals with physical and mental disabilities through assisting them in their daily life. Unlike the patients who live in a psychiatric hospital, the clients live in their homes and have their own schedule tailored based on their ability. As a Psychiatric Direct Support Specialist, we provide emotional support and assist daily living of people with mental illness. A Psychiatric Direct Support Specialist needs to bring the clients to medical appointments or daytime programs, give them medication, assist them with cooking and exercising, and other daily tasks. Sometimes staff would go to a restaurant with the clients, and it is always nice to see the clients smile.

"Through working with people with mental illness in real life, questions on the subject I had never thought of were elicited."

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience impacted my academics by allowing me to apply the theories I learn from my abnormal psychology course and observe the daily life of people with mental illness, which is rarely mentioned in the textbook. I was able to observe the symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia and expand that knowledge into real life situations. Through working with people with mental illness in real life, questions on the subject I had never thought of were elicited. On the other hand, it makes me realize that I truly love to interact with people. As a result, I decided that I want to be a practitioner instead of being a professor who only teaches and does research.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am planning to get a PhD degree in clinical psychology and become a licensed clinical psychologist. I envision one day that I will be able to open my own practice which provides relatively affordable mental health care to the minorities and underprivileged. Through working as a Psychiatric Direct Support Specialist, I learned to communicate and encourage people with mental illness. Through engaging in their daily life, I learned some of the struggles and challenges people with mental health illness face. Working as a Psychiatric Direct Support Specialist also prepared me to work in a mental health hospital in the future.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience for students who want hands-on experience who want to pursue career in human services or mental health. This experience would give you the skills to work with people who have mental illness or physical disability. I would also recommend this experience to people who are going to need good communication skills.

For more information on internship opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website
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