Switch to Accessible Site
Woman Smiling
Woman Smiling

            Freedom From Fear Internship Program

Joining the Mental Health Army

Since the year 2000, Freedom From Fear has opened their doors to more than 150 students studying for careers within the mental health field. Both undergraduate and graduate students are able to participate in the program. Some institutions that undergraduate students have come from are St. John's University, Wagner College, College of Staten Island, New Jersey City University and several others. Graduate students from Pace University, Wagner College, Brooklyn College, Post University, Rutgers, Caldwell College to name a few, have also participated. Each intern is able to gain hours and credits through their school while interning at Freedom from Fear.
 
Mary Guardino, Founder and Executive Director of Freedom From Fear, lets each individual intern that comes  to the facility know that they are about to join the mental health army. They will have the opportunity to be trained to be soldiers in the fight to bring light to mental illnesses and become advocates for those suffering with mental illnesses. In addition, interns are trained in understanding the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses and how to dispel myths regarding them. Mary always reminds interns that mental illnesses are medical conditions just like diabetes or heart disease.
 
The program varies depending if the interns are undergraduate or graduate students.   Each individual is afforded the opportunity to have hands on experience working in an active mental health facility. Undergraduate interns typically spend 10 hours a week within the facility per semester. Some duties of undergraduates include filing, making appointments and writing articles for Freedom From Fear’s website. Students also get a chance to work on different advocacy projects such as Mental Health Wellness Week. The most exciting and interesting part of the internship is getting the opportunity to sit in on sessions with the mental health professionals who work at the treatment center at Freedom From Fear.

The graduate students spend 20 hours a week for two full semesters at the facility. Graduate students are able to work with patients in therapy, evaluate new patients and work hand in hand with the therapists and psychiatrists on treatment plans for patients. A licensed Social worker, who is part of the staff, supervises them. The focus is to see patients and learn the art of being a mental health therapist.

Many interns have expressed what a positive experience it was interning at Freedom From Fear.  They feel the experience was educational and that it motivated them to want to pursue a career in the mental health field.  Several of the graduate students now work full-time as therapists at Freedom From Fear.

 If you are interested in joining our internship program, please do the following:

  • State whether you are an undergraduate student or a graduate student
  • State what school you currently attend
  • If you are a graduate student, state the program you are currently in
  • State the line of work you are interested in pursuing, what you want to specialize in
  • Provide us with the time period you would like to intern
  • Send an updated resume

All of this information is to be sent to Mary Guardino (Founder/Executive Director) at maryfff@aol.com. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mary at 718-351-1717 x. 20.


Hello, my name is Lauren and I am currently a second year graduate student at Baruch College where I am working towards my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. I was fortunate enough to be accepted at Freedom From Fear for my internship placement this past Fall and my experience has been an extremely positive one thus far. I am truly enjoying all of the learning opportunities that this organization has to offer. What interests me the most about Freedom From Fear is the vast population of individuals who seek out mental health services.

The opportunity to be able to work with such a diverse and challenging population on a daily basis has been both rewarding and challenging at the same time. This experience so far has allowed me to gain the expertise and confidence I will need to be the best counselor I can be.  One important reason as to why I have chosen to become a Mental Health Counselor is to end the stigma that comes along with having a mental illness. Also, to be given the opportunity to shed some light onto others about the importance of mental health services for everyone in need.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My journey in training to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) has been an enthralling one. Interning at Freedom From Fear has helped navigate me towards my goals in becoming a CMHC. After graduating with my Master’s in CMHC and completing my internship hours, I plan to work with adolescents and young adults in my career. While interning here, I have worked with several adolescences and young adults. Eventually my primary goal will be to work with adolescents and young adults suffering from eating disorders. Living in a world that revolves around objectification has notably increased the number of women and men living with eating disorders in the past several years, which is why I have become so passionate about helping others with this. I have gained a lot of experience and insight from interning at Freedom From Fear that will shape me into the best clinician I can be.

-Alexa, Graduate Intern, 2015-2016

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  Hello, my name is Marawan Elwakil and I attended CUNY Brooklyn College’s program for mental health counseling. I interned at Freedom from Fear for the 2016-2017 school year. I searched vigorously for an internship site that would provide me with rich clinical exposure, supportive supervision, warm staff atmosphere and opportunities that would carry me through the beginning of my career as a new clinician. At Freedom from Fear, I found each of these areas not only met, but exceeded my expectations.  Spanning from the highly experienced clinicians, to the bedrock of operations that are the front desk staff, and all the way to the director herself - Mary Guardino - did I find a group of not only skilled but warm and humorous group of support that developed me in to a finely tuned clinician.

I worked primarily with children; however also saw adolescence and young adults. The opportunity to form intimate and healing bonds with each one of these individuals was an invaluable experience that helped me understand exactly how it is one does therapy. My work would not have been as nurturing as it could be if not for the help of all the highly skilled supervisors, clinicians and psychiatrists on site that were always more than willing to sit with me and discuss any issues I brought up. I was enabled to use CBT and encouraged to bring in other therapeutic tools that I felt appropriate. I became more organized in being able to perform intakes, see patients, seek supervision and create my progress notes. In the end, I am fortunate to have been part of such a rewarding experience at Freedom from Fear and feel confident to move forward as a mental health counselor – helping the world find equanimity, one person at a time. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Interning at Freedom From Fear solidified my dream of working in the mental health field. I had the unique experience of working alongside gifted and acclaimed professionals who devoted their time to helping people reclaim control over their lives. Freedom From Fear showed me the vital connection between individual psychotherapy and larger scale advocacy and psychoeducation. I am forever grateful for all the lessons I have learned that will propel me forward as I work towards a clinical degree.

- Talia Schulder, Undergraduate Intern, Summer 2017

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hello, my name is Bianca and I interned during the summer of 2017. As a current undergraduate at Rider University, I am overwhelmed with Psychology and Social Work classes. Interning here at Freedom From Fear took what I learned in the classroom and pushed me to apply it, in a more hands on way. While interning, I was able to get individualized guidance in the mental health field.  I got experience sitting in on therapy sessions, taking notes during an evaluation, prepping files for psychiatrists, using language related to the field, and experience communicating with patients. Having the ability to interact with therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists gave me the ability to see mental health disorders through a new lens and have a more lucid view of the complicated diagnosis process. I’m so appreciative of the staff at Freedom From Fear, especially Mary Guardino, who has impacted my journey into the mental health field.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are some statements from past interns, expressing their feelings towards the program:

For me, the most beneficial aspect of interning at Freedom From Fear was learning the interdisciplinary approach to mental health, in which therapists, social workers, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, and psychologists worked together to provide for clients.”
Cassandra Lenza.
 

 “Over the course of three months, I was able to meet and interact with many interesting patients with various mental health conditions. I was able to interact with an amazing staff consisting of social workers, mental health counselors, and psychiatrists….I appreciate the staff including Mary Guardino, the founder, and the excellent psychiatrists and therapists who helped me along the way and I hope our paths cross again”
Danielle Caputo.
 
“My experience at Freedom From Fear exceeded my expectations. Writing articles for the website on various mental disorders has allowed me to acquire knowledge while also educating others. Once a week, I was allowed to sit in on sessions with consent of the patients. I witnessed the application of cognitive behavioral therapy and gained a perspective on how therapy can motivate a person to heal”
Rachel Fisch.