Encountering Difference in Graduate Training: Potential for Practicum Experience

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Psychotherapists attempt to cultivate sensitivity to difference in their work with diverse client populations. Developing therapists may also benefit from theoretical and practical encounters with difference during graduate training. Although graduate students may thrive in training institutions where orientations resonate with their intuitive understandings, valuable opportunities for growth emerge when students obtain practicum experience at sites using alternative approaches to psychotherapy. This article documents the challenges and opportunities met by one graduate student trained in existential, psychodynamic, humanistic, and sociocultural approaches, when she embarked on a practicum experience in a medical setting, where dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was the treatment of choice. She discusses professional growth, steps toward psychotherapy integration, and implications for graduate training.

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