My First IPE Experience

Darren Community Mental Health and Addictions 0 Comments

Hi everyone, I am back. 
My class just completed PSYC 110 and I have to say that it was a difficult condensed course. Wow, a lot of information in a short period of time. On the way to my first test for this block of classes I tweeted to all my followers that I was “off to see the wizard the wonderful wizard of PSYC 110, if I click my heels together three times and chant, please pass this test, will I pass?” well I got 95% on my test so apparently following the yellow brick road helped my cause. That, my friends, is a story for another day though. 
We do a program here called Integrated Practical Experience (I.P.E.). This involves going to a site that actually gives hands-on experience. It runs once a week, every Wednesday for 8 weeks at one particular site. Then you move to another site for 8 weeks again. This program follows this model for the duration of my classes until I reach my actual practicum. I have to say, it was an eye opening experience. I was thinking that all the programs out there designed for people in need were based on a shelter or transition house mentality. I was placed at The Russell Residence in New Westminster. I found out very quickly that not everyone wants to change, but these people still need a place to live. When I say shelter or transition house, I mean a place to live with programs in place to move forward in learning life skills. Most of these places have time restrictions on the length of time you can stay. There are very strict rules on what you can do on the basis of not letting you fall back into the lifestyle you have chosen to separate yourself from. I was placed in what is called permanent housing and it is a place where people with disabilities both mental and physical (I call addiction a disability) can live and function in an otherwise extremely difficult society. There are rules in place but it is up to the tenant to seek out the programs they may wish to follow. There is no real time limit on how long you can stay. I had a different vision of how these places work but as I said earlier my eyes were opened very quickly.
At first I truly did not agree with the idea of just giving people an affordable place to live without any sort of life coaching skills. I began to question whether I took the right course for me. This is where I got nervous. I was thinking of a more one-on-one basis with clients. To help them deal with their issues and develop skills to move forward, but I learned that not everyone has issues and not everyone needs help. Also not everyone wants help. A lot of people just want an affordable place to live. It took me awhile to come to terms with this in my mind. With the help of the staff at Russell Residence and my IPE monitor Michelle, I began to truly understand the place; the people and what my role would be. I understand that you can’t push options on people if they are not ready and/or do not want to change. It is up to the people to decide what they want. I am there only to offer support and offer directions if someone may be lost. It is not up to me however to walk them down the road. That is up to the individual. I will help any way I can but I have to understand my limits and the client’s limits. 
Overall it has been an enlightening experience. Honestly I wasn’t really nervous going to my first IPE. Excited for sure but not really nervous. I became nervous when I began to learn what it was really about. I began to feel like I couldn’t help any of these people, none of them trust me but with the help of Michelle (my IPE monitor from Stenberg) I am truly learning that the lesson here is I am not out to save the world. I am not Superman or Batman or any other kind of superhero. I am here to offer support any way I can and be there for the people that need me. Whether it is just getting them their mail, offering them an extra blanket or offering an ear if anyone needs to talk. For this I am excited and I am more than willing to participate. Special thank you to Michelle for helping me open my mind and getting me out of the tunnel vision I had previous to my experience at my first IPE.
Thanks for reading, 

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