My internship with the Berkshire Collaborative Care Initiative

My name is Karli Retzel and I am a senior psychology major and education minor here at Wheaton. Over the summer I had the opportunity to intern under the supervision of a pediatrician at MACONY Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine located in Great Barrington Massachusetts. My specific role was working on their Berkshire Collaborative Care Initiative which provides wraparound care to children and their families to assist them in receiving the overall health and mental healthcare they need. Whenever anyone asks about my experience I find myself using the same phrase: “More than I ever could have imagined”. Not only did I learn so much about the mental health world and what resources Berkshire county has to offer, but I also learned so much about myself and where my interests lie. I was able to connect with so many professionals across many different organizations, which helped me to narrow down what I want to do post graduation. A couple of connections stand out to me, including my supervisor. She was the reason this experience was as rewarding for me as it was. She was always thinking of new zoom calls for me to hop on or smaller projects for me to take on to expose me to different ways that the collaborative care model works. With this in mind, each new day differed from the previous one in terms of duties. Some days would consist of different zoom calls ranging in cases involving children to preparing for a data collection project that is in action currently. Other days would include more independent work such as updating databases with local therapists’ contact information to searching for various resources that would be helpful for families during COVID. Having this remote internship unfold in such a natural and collaborative way allowed me to be exposed to many different experiences that may not have been available other years. Something in particular that stood out to me was that I was able to attend the Ninth Annual Riggs-Yale Conference on Developmental Psychopathology, Family Process, and Social Context: Supporting Children, Families, and Communities in the time of COVID-19 that was put on by the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge Massachusetts. This was both an informative and amazing opportunity, and was something I was able to experience with my mother who is the principal of the elementary school in my town. Not only at this conference, but throughout all the other experiences this internship afforded me, I was exposed to the power and impact that collaborating with professionals across many different occupations has on helping children and their families. I was especially able to gain insight into this through my independent interview project I started, and am continuing to work on currently. I had the opportunity to interview over 25 professionals that collaborate within the initiative as well as 6 parents of children that have interacted with this type of care. Talking with the parents specifically allowed me to see the impact and importance of this type of work. This internship taught me so much about  mental health and myself, solidifying my interest in continuing my journey towards the mental health world.