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Hope Internship Experience – Niels Nijand

Hope Internship Experience

by Niels Nijand

My First Weeks at Hope Rehab

The first two weeks were difficult for me as I adjusted to this strange place where I would be spending the next six months – I also had to get used to getting up at 6am (something I rarely did at home). I was troubled by thoughts such as, ‘I am not cut out for this’, ‘I am not good enough for this’, and ‘I will never be able to be an asset to this place’.

Niels Nijland Psychology Intern

Luckily for me, the staff at Hope were fully supportive. They involved me in everything. I got to sit in every group, do all the client activities, and go to the AA and NA meetings. After about two weeks this, it dawned on me that of course when you start out in a new place you’re not going to know everything from day one – everyone has to learn and get used to things.

What I really started to love about Hope was the people involved and the way they interacted with each other and with me. There is a mutual respect between clients and staff that makes for a really nice atmosphere. My first weeks I engaged in everything – this meant I was working long days, but it was worth it.

Becoming a Full Member of the Team

After a while, I got more responsibilities such as taking clients shopping, accompanying them on visits to the dentist, or taking them out for sporting activities. I discovered these outings were a great way to connect with clients. During our informal chats, the clients would often tell me what was really going on with them – that’s when I realized that they had started to trust me which is very important in this line of work.

Hope has offered me a lot of freedom and responsibilities. Three times a week I lead a boot camp class – this is a morning fitness class that I really enjoy. I also run my own group session which is based on training I put together myself. I felt nervous standing in front of 18 clients to share my knowledge, but it was a really awesome experience. During a normal day at Hope, I help clients with step-work, Hope is 12 step and CBT based.

Taking initiative is very much appreciated at Hope, so if I have an idea to do something, it is almost always encouraged by the rest of the team. These last four months have been an amazing experience so far. I have learned so much and gained true insight into how addiction works, what it does to people, and how to treat it.

I have been an intern at hope for about four months now. It has been an amazing experience so far.

The 5 most important things I learned at Hope

Everyone is on their own journey and has their own story

This is one of the biggest things I learned at Hope. I has made me realise that I used to judge a book quite quick by its cover. This is a common thing to do but being at Hope has allowed me to see there is a lot that goes on in people’s minds – battles they are fighting. Understanding what goes on in someone’s mind, and what have been trough in the past, helps me to understand their actions. To understand this helps to understand their actions, not to justify it but to understand it.

Treat people with respect and you will be treated with respect

The way Hope interacts with clients makes for a great place to work. Clients are treated like the adults they are. Everyone is treated with respect, and this forms a great bond between staff and clients with the trust that is needed in a rehab.

It’s ok to not be ok

This is something that was new for me. I had always lived my life with the notion that as a man you have to be OK, and if I’m not OK, I will deal with this myself and not show it to others because I have to be strong. This perception has changed massively since I have been at Hope. Talking about your feelings and thoughts is a massive part of rehab and recovery. Keeping your thoughts and feelings bottled up inside of you is a dangerous thing and the notion that you can’t show vulnerability is massively outdated. Showing your true emotions to others is an intimate and a wonderful experience.

Rehab is a mixture of serious counselling and fun activities

The mixture within this rehab of counselling, group sessions and fun/fitness activities works really well in my opinion. The mornings start with morning exercise, this varies between yoga, bike rides and boot camp – in boot camp, you work out all your muscles with your bodyweight. After that the mornings are filled with group sessions and in the afternoon the clients either have 1 on 1 sessions or I do some form of exercise with them. Hope gives me full freedom and responsibilities to do whatever kind of activity I feel fit for that day. Examples of activities I do during the day are bike rides, basketball, swimming or weightlifting. All in all, I feel like the mixture of sport and counselling works really well.

If you put in the work everyone is capable of change.

I have seen quite a few clients come and go by now and I can honestly say that getting that message months after the client has left saying that he/she is doing amazing, has a sponsor, is going to meetings and is loving life is one of the best things there is. The people that did the work at hope, got stuck into the steps, did the exercise and then gone home and gone to meetings and got a sponsor. Those people make it and I believe anyone can.

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