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.
The Elder Ashram Academy 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.
All residents have an opportunity to connect with interns who, if they so desire, provide emotional and therapeutic support individually and/or in group settings.
Interns spend two or more days a week in the Elder Ashram 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.
She is sitting in the common room and there is Jazz playing on the CD player. I sit next to her, but we exchange no words. I smile and she looks at me. Together we let the music drift over us. I know the words and I sing them to her. She moves her hand, I move mine in the same way. She recognizes what I am doing and I am excited. Perhaps she will tell me something through her movement! She starts doing various "primping" motions (Fixing her hair, playing with her nails etc) I do this with her for a while. Then I realize that my expectation for communication has made her self conscious. I stop looking at her, and follow her gaze to my cup sitting on the coffee table. We observe the cup for a long time. Gently I look back to her and she very slightly raised her shoulders as if to say "Now you've got it."
Shared by an Intern
When I met her, her warmth and excitement filled the room. She greets me with open arms and a smile that stretches from ear to ear. "You know I used to do hair in my salon," she whispers to me. She reaches out for my hand and squeezes it tightly. How lucky am I to be sitting with this beautiful woman. As we sit together, she shares her stories about motherhood. "You know, I only have one daughter and I love her," she points to a picture of her daughter that rests above her bed. How lucky am I to be sitting with such a loving & devoted mother. As I listen, she points to a newspaper clipping and talks about her far away home. "I used to live in Mexico, you know. We used to dance to the Mexican music!" she laughs with excitement. How luck am I to be learning about her traditions in Mexico. So lucky to be a part of her beautiful journey through life.
Shared by an Intern
Copyright © 2022 Elder Ashram - All Rights Reserved.
RCFE #019200956 – (510) 698-4674 fax
A Community Supporting our Elders as Teachers