By Josh McGuire
Finance, Entrepreneurship and Christian Studies Major, Honors College
You can’t have any expectations walking into a home with someone who suffers from serious mental illness, a mood disorder or substance abuse. Bianca Boling, a senior psychology major and honors student, is interning for The Link Department of Southwest Behavioral and Health Services where she shadows once a week with case workers managing individuals with these illnesses every day. “I am exposed to different cultures and people that come from all different backgrounds,” Boling explained, referring to a few particular encounters she’s had while in the field. Four stood out as insights into the power of caring, broken families, the opportunity to de-escalate and the world of behavioral psychology.
The Power of Caring
“This internship has taught me how to hold conversations with complete strangers and how to get people comfortable with me quickly.”
One of Boling’s first outings was to a home in Glendale to see a young man. Let’s call him Ben. Ben has a mood disorder that brings out anger and aggressiveness. But during this particular visit, Boling was there to offer career advice and assist in job applications. Ben was irritable and frustrated with the process until Boling began a conversation about none other than GCU’s own Dan Majerle. A simple conversation, albeit it lasted three hours, led to productive work on his applications. Offering friendship and an attitude of caring is what broke the barrier.
“The greatest take away is the experience I am getting from my desired career field.”
During a visit to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Boling met a family in a difficult period in their lives. There were two children and their mother; one of the children was there due to supposedly drinking a household cleaning product which had made him incapable of eating. Not a good day, and to make the situation more saddening, they were to be separated due to negligence, among other factors. This was an eye-opening moment to the reality of many families.
The Opportunity to De-Escalate
“No client is the same and no experience is the same. I’m able to learn how to deal with diversity and the situations that come along with it.”
As a standard check-in with a The Link household, Boling met a man with a serious mental illness (SMI), and it was a different kind of experience. “They’re in the attic plotting to kill me, both of them,” he said. The man was convinced, in a home without an attic, his roommates were plotting against him. Naturally Boling had to manage the situation. “It has taught me how to deal with conflict in a calm, quick, and resourceful manner,” Boling said.
The World of Behavioral Psychology
“Originally, I was referred to this position through Dr. Noe Vargas, assistant dean of GCU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Breanna Naegeli, assistant dean of the Honors College. But gaining the position – it’s been special. They are very accommodating, allowing me to experience different aspects of the job and various roles within their department.”
One of the primary functions of The Link is to connect clients to permanent housing. This is the central role of the department, and it brought Boling to a local homeless shelter. She saw firsthand one of the individuals who was in the process of receiving a home, which Boling said could take upward of two years. Individuals receive hope from the program, because they come from backgrounds of little to no income and rely on government programs for a leg-up.
The Very Practical World
“I’ve seen more paperwork in one day than I have in my entire life!”
One of the objectives Boling is tasked with is managing the client paperwork: filing and uploading documents; tracking intakes, evaluations and progress notes; and strenuously following HIPAA for maintaining integrity within the process. She admitted to me that this solidified her desire to pursue forensic psychology rather than behavioral focused work.
“I’ve always wanted to work with the most difficult of cases: the psychopaths, the murders. It’s thrilling.” Boling has identified Midwestern as her school of choice to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology and later a doctorate in forensic psychology. In the meantime, the paperwork is piling up.
Advice to Fellow Honors Students
Boling offered this advice to fellow honors students: “You never know if you will really enjoy what you think you may want to do, until you actually get to do it. An internship is the experimental way to figure out what you may want to do for the rest of your life. Make connections early and find opportunities to shadow as soon as possible. There are endless amounts of opportunities within the field of psychology and being able to know what you want to do can lead you to a faster track to that dream career.”
The GCU Honors College is a perfect place for bright and motivated students to learn and grow in community. For more information, visit our website or contact us using the Request More Information button.
More about Josh McGuire:
Josh McGuire is a finance, entrepreneurship and Christian studies student at GCU. He works for the Honors College as an event planner and interned for SEED SPOT and Operation Angel Whings. Additionally, he serves as a senator on ASGCU and club president for Defenders GCU and Circle K International.