This semester, St. Vincent de Paul Louisville worked with six practicum students. Of those, five undergraduate students are from UofL’s Kent School of Social Work. One graduate student is from Campbellsville University’s School of Social work. SVDP pairs each student with an experienced staff member to learn the practical aspects of social work.
Students learn by shadowing their task supervisors. They interact with clients, completing needs assessments, reviewing resources with clients, and more. Students concentrate on different target groups segmented by age, gender, and life experience. Working with these groups strengthens the practicum students’ skills and increases their empathy. Indeed, students learn that compassion improves their clinical relationships with clients.
One of our students, Alexandria, works at Waypoint, a home for youth. She explains, “The most important thing that this practicum has taught me is to take the time to get to know the clients. I try to see things from their perspective.”
Another student, Madison, works with our children. She urges everyone to give those we serve a chance to flourish: “These kids have great hearts and all the ability in the world to be great. Some of them have experienced some major setbacks, but they deserve to grow through it.”
With empathy, students learn practical skills. They learn to help the Louisville community and particularly the homeless community.
Larry, a student working in the counseling office, selected a practicum at SVDP to receive the practical experience. Larry provides assessments, holds individual counseling sessions, and supports clients in many aspects of mental health care. At first, Larry was curious about the value of the Housing First model. He soon realized that having a home makes it possible to effectively treat other issues like mental health. Larry explains, “The stress of homelessness adds another level to the struggle to function with mental health or substance abuse issues. We don’t need to make these people do without basic human needs while we treat depression or alcoholism.”
Our practicum students want to make a difference in this society. Through their experience with SVDP, they are learning what kind of difference they can make in the world. We are grateful to them for their passion and support for those we serve.