Lisa Wiepen is counseling intern at Western Iowa Tech Lisa Wiepen, Yankton, is spending the summer as a counseling intern at Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC), Sioux City.
Working under the direction of Penny Schempp, WITCC counselor, she is gaining field experience in confidential personal and career counseling and accumulating credit hours toward her master's degree in counseling from The University of South Dakota.
Many of Wiepen's clients are dealing with some type of change � in their work, in their personal lives, or in the goals they have established for their future. Some changes, such as divorce, bereavement and job loss, create grief.
"I was surprised by how much grief I would encounter in this internship," said Wiepen. "I thought I would be focusing more on helping people with time management and study skills."
About 35 percent of Wiepen's clients have recently lost their jobs. "Apart from financial strain, one of the greatest challenges individuals face when they get laid off is the loss of workplace relationships," she said. "They have to say goodbye to people they've worked with for years, sometimes decades. It can be traumatic."
Wiepen has also spent time during her internship working with Tricia Sutherland, disabilities coordinator at WITCC. She has assisted Sutherland with documenting and administering computerized placement tests for disabled students and counseling disabled students and their parents.
Wiepen said her internship at WITCC had brought many benefits, including discovering ways to be of assistance to people and enriching her education with working knowledge.
Following her graduation from USD next December, Wiepen plans to study for a doctorate at USD and acquire further field experience in counseling. She is interested in continuing as a counselor for the same reasons she was first attracted to the field.
"I enjoy helping people overcome their difficulties and enabling them to have better lives," she said.
WITCC's counseling internship program is designed to provide a quality educational practice experience with a clientele that is culturally diverse and spans a wide age range.
Schempp estimates she has supervised an average of one intern a year over the past 20 years.
"I find outstanding candidates through my activities as a guest speaker at USD workshops," said Schempp. "My goal is to provide them with a really valuable foundation in the art of counseling."
Schempp said Wiepen was an excellent intern capable of rising to every challenge she had encountered.
Wiepen is a lifelong resident of Yankton. She is married and has four children.