What Does It Mean to be an Intern at Fountain Hill?

By Katie Hauge

This was the question I was looking to answer when I was seeking an internship at the end of the summer in 2019. I had learned the theories, digested the research, and worked beside counselors for a number of years. I wondered what would it be like to practice counseling at Fountain Hill; an organization comprised of so many multifaceted and experienced clinicians.

Now that I’m at the end of my internship, it’s hard for me to retrospectively answer my own question and sum up what my time here has been like. I have been challenged in ways I never would have anticipated. I have learned more than I ever could have from any class or seminar. More than anything, however, working at Fountain Hill as an intern was a deeply humbling experience. I was able to walk alongside courageous clients and compassionate clinicians.

People far more experienced were willing to invest in me so that I could grow and invest in the community. I realize my internship experience at Fountain Hill was truly unique and deeply grounded in the heart of Grand Rapids. Through this past year, I was able to apply the information I had learned and use my skills while at the same time engaging with my neighborhood. 

Looking back now to those first weeks of Fall 2019, I never could have anticipated what was to come. There would have been no way to understand the challenges as well as victories, both big and small that I bear witness to during the year. And, to be honest, stepping in to that space of not fully knowing made it even more special. 

What I can describe is the overwhelming sense of gratitude I feel for the Center, the clients, and the clinicians. There was no single moment or “cross-over” point, but interning at Fountain Hill has brought me securely from “student” to “professional.” I know I have much more to learn and many more experiences to navigate. I feel a sense of hope knowing I have already taken some of most difficult and formative steps towards my professional goals. 

It is a privilege to do this work and after completing my internship, I understand that privilege on a much deeper level. Despite unanswered questions and uncertainty about the future, I will carry that understanding it forward to the next stage of my professional life. 

Katie Hauge has been an intern at Fountain Hill since the Fall of 2019. She just completed her Masters in Counseling through Cornerstone University, and before that she got her Bachelors degree in Exercise Science and Psychology at Hope College. Katie is interested in whole-person wellness and the ways exercise and expressive/art therapies can foster healing and growth. She is looking forward to working with clients as an licensed counselor soon!

Left: Mural in the Basement Office. Top right: Wall of the stairs: What joy can compare with that of a bird that has just learned she can fly? -Marty Robin

During her time at Fountain Hill, Katie was able to work on some artwork in the basement of the Center.  She describes her work and the imagery: “This piece is meant to symbolize the process of illumination, growth, and change we so often get to see through the course of therapy. Clients come to counseling with a light that may have been hidden or dimmed for a period of time. However, the light is still there, and it cannot be extinguished. During counseling, we encourage clients to self-reflect, to uncover their lights, and to draw out authenticity. This is an inherently messy process. Counseling and self-discovery is rarely, if ever a fully linear or organized sequence of events. At times, this process can seem more like a tangled mess in which the individual may experience ambivalence and pain. Yet the inherent messiness makes this the most significant and beautiful work that a person can do. The end result is growth and freedom, but it is only made possible by engaging with the mess. Each piece (the light, the struggle, and the resulting freedom) are needed for the picture to be complete. Just as the viewer looks at the image as a whole, we as counselors at Fountain Hill, have the privilege to see and appreciate your light and the journey you travel towards freedom.”

The Fountain Hill Center