Pacific Institute

Pacific Institute GeroWellness Programs
— BAPIC Practicum, CAPIC Pre-Doctoral, & MFT Trainee/MFT Internships

PI Interns 2012

Pacific Institute provides a unique 1-2 year internship program designed to promote a developmental process in which interns and trainees move into the role of existential facilitator and therapist. This internship is an important stage in the process of becoming a professional therapist, healer, and elder. Interns and trainees are encouraged to take an active role in carrying out the program's research and educational goals.

The Socratic dictum "know thyself" is in many ways the primal motivation to become a clinician in the human services field. Having said that, knowledge of self is inter-related to knowledge of other. Along with developing clinical skills and professional expertise, Pacific institute draws from the rich tradition of human thought and experience the help we need to struggle with the fundamental questions of being a human being: Why are we here? How are we here? What does life want from us? What do we want from life?

Interns and trainees from both the doctoral and masters level are trained in the phenomenological-existential and process-work approaches to therapy within which they are encouraged to develop and grow their own style of care and clinical support.

The Internship includes:

  • Psychotherapeutic and assessment activities with a caseload drawn from the Residential Care Facilities for the mentally ill and the Elderly, which are owned, managed, or served by Pacific Institute.
  • Individual supervision for this caseload.
  • Training seminars on theory and technique.
  • Demonstrations and clinical case conferences.
  • Clinical activities that encompass individual encounters and group activities.
  • Individual encounters: Each intern works with up to 10 residents or outpatient clients over a one-year period. The intern is assigned a caseload and monitors the well being of these residents and clients.
  • Group activities: Each intern also creates and leads at least two weekly psycho-spiritual groups and is available for crisis intervention.
  • One hour of individual supervision.
  • Two hours of group supervision.
  • Interns and trainees participate also in intake services and become involved in special projects within the Institute.
  • Research opportunities to explore non-verbal approaches to clinical interventions, gero-psychology issues, feminism and ageism, and other topics.

The Clinical Supervisor manages intern supervision and oversees all resident issues of a clinical nature. He/she is a licensed professional in the State of California and meets current supervisory requirements. The Assistant and/or Clinical Director is the interns' primary administrative contact. He/she coordinates all aspects of interns' presence in the practicum-site facility, including orientation, logistical concerns, and any other issues of a non-clinical nature. The Assistant and/or Clinical Director works closely with the practicum site's staff (RCFE's, Mental Health Clinic, ICT's case managers and social workers) to insure a smooth operation of the program and to insure program effectiveness.

Program Contact Information:
Nader Shabahangi

Who Are Interns?

With backgrounds in psychology, gerontology, counseling, grief and loss support, and/or human development, interns come from a variety of schools and universities in the Bay Area and beyond. We select interns who show an authentic interest and passion to work with the aging population, and with an interest in being part of a movement that views aging with respect and awareness. This is a view that looks at the gift of years that aging or maturing affords us.

Pacific Institute teaches a humanistic-existential, process oriented approach to working with individuals in general and elders specifically. This approach refrains from pathologizing and labeling and tries to understand the appearance of symptoms as important messages to be explored and understood. In such a phenomenological approach, symptoms are understood as solutions to whatever ails or burdens a resident rather than a problem to be eliminated.

Each intern is supervised by a licensed professional and required to attend trainings and group supervision sessions weekly. Many of our past interns, following a year-long internship program, have returned licensed and re-joined our team. Others stay in touch from afar keeping us abreast of the work in which they are engaged.

AgeSong Institute Internsihp Program
What Do Interns Do?

All residents at AgeSong Communities have an opportunity to connect with interns who provide emotional and therapeutic support individually and/or in group settings.

Interns spend two or more days a week in an AgeSong community and may accompany residents to group programs, share stories while on walks, connect in a painting class, listen to music, and read poetry together. They also plan trips to the opera or share in a quiet moment. Groups focus on meditation, expressive arts, movement, humor, national and international news, literature, travel and much more. Our interns follow the lead of elders; they show us what is important to them.

Interns support the community should a crisis arise, if a fall occurs or when residents become ill. Individual counseling and support groups are provided as requested for residents and families, as well as training and support for care partners and staff. Families and friends are invited to be a part of our community and to be as active as they choose to be. Interns may be in contact with families and friends to pass along information, to set up meetings when beneficial, to gather history or valuable information, or to invite families and friends to events and programs.

What Do Interns Say About The Program?

Included here are some former GeroWellness interns sharing about their experiences in the program.[From Facebook]

Melissa D'Antoni had this to say about her experience in the GeroWellness Program:
"This is SO awesome to see! When I was doing my clinical internship in expressive arts therapy in San Francisco it was Nader Robert Shabahangi and Doris Bersing who believed in me and the power of creative expression to support me in starting a program at for elders at AgeSong assisted living facilities. We had painting, drawing, drama, yoga, sandplay, dance and music, it was incredible. Can't forget Dede Estey and Anin Utigaard for all their training and support as well! Such fond memories. My clients at AgeSong and Zen Hospice taught me so much about presence and stillness. This IS the way of health & wellness care."

Former intern Anin Utigaard commented on Melissa's post:
"Thanks for sharing this Melissa. Yes, my time at AgeSong was also very rich and heart opening, and I have you to thank for that. I just saw several interns from AgeSong on Friday night and we were reminiscing about our time there and how much we learned from the Elders. It changed us in a good way - wonderful experience. So glad you're continuing to bring your magic to your community. Creativity is such a powerful resource for all of us. I can't imagine what life would be without music, art, dance, drama and poetry."

Former intern Dede Estey shared this comment about Melissa's post:
"So happy to see this and be reminded of all the great interns I met at AgeSong and Pacific Institute. you are a bright light in a difficult time in the world. So happy your work fulfills you and now you can share your love of art and people with your daughter."

The Application Process is OPEN

The GeroWellness Program is currently accepting applications!

Program Contact Information:
Nader Shabahangi

Ongoing Research Projects

Pacific Institute has a fundamental mission of furthering research in the field of existential, humanistic, and transpersonal psychology. In fulfilling its endeavors, the Institute focuses on philosophical aspects as well as on practical applications of its approach on the fields of mental health, non-ordinary states of consciousness, and gero-psychology.

Founded in 1992, the Institute began as a groundbreaking center of integrative, whole-person services, learning, and training. Today, PI is a leader in applied gero-psychology and education of clinicians, care partners, and consultants who apply humanistic principles and values in a variety of settings.

The Institute's transformative educational paradigm, valuing the non-mainstream approaches to learning and doing research attracts students from all over the world to our wellness and learning programs.

Some of our ongoing research projects are:

From Crone to Mentor (pdf)
A study about the meaning of life for feminist baby-boomers in later years
by Doris Bersing, Ph.D.
The Courage To Forget: An Interpretive Study of Existential Concerns Revealed In Group Processes by Individuals Living With Dementia (pdf)
by Suzan Bollich, Ph.D.
Reflections on the Existential-Humanistic Approach to Eldership
by Rochelle D'Silva-Suri
Poster at the 2nd Annual Conference of The Society for Humanistic Psychology
Sponsored by the Division 32 of APA
Humanistic Psychology in Practice
August 11-13, 2008 — Boston, Massachusetts
Through The Circle: Mandala Art and Dementia (pdf)
by Rev. Patti Goldstein, M.A.
The Meaning of Intimacy to Older Adults in Assisted Living: A Phenomenological Perspective (pdf)
by Liz Macera, PhD, RN, NP-C and Mats Christiansen, MNSc, RN
The Delicate Ecology of Delusion (pdf)
A Cross-Cultural Case Study on the Inner Landscape of Elderly with Dementia
A Research Proposal by Elizabeth Shaver and Kalyani Metha
Life Journey into Alzheimer's Disease Study (pdf)
Exploring the Inner Landscape of an Elderly with Dementia utilizing Existential Approaches
by Nader Shabahangi, Ph.D — Pacific Institute and Patrick Fox, Ph.D — UCSF
Feminism Through Time: Age, Difference, and Ideology (pdf)
by Tamar Shirinian
This project explores the "schism" within feminist thought through space so that global issues, which are pertinent in a postmodern and globalized world can be seen within various scales rather than as a teleological process of "women's rights" and Western "feminist" issues. Within this work, I hope to discuss age, difference and ideology not just within a temporal platform, but within scales of time, space and self.
Open To Not Knowing: Existential and Process–Oriented Approaches to Therapy with Elders with Dementia
A research study conducted and sponsored by The Pacific Institute's Assisted Living Facilities: Hayes Valley Care and Laguna Grove Care
by Puran Khalsa, PsyD, and Matt Spalding, EdM, PsyD
The purpose of this study is to discern and assess the unique and effective components of the phenomenological–existential and process–work approach to the clinical treatment of elders with dementia in the Pacific Institute Senior Communities in San Francisco, CA.
An Older Woman Always has a Story...The Role of the Mature Woman in an Evolving Patriarchal Society (pdf)
by Vanessa Valentino, PsyD

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