Irina Bashkirov, LAC NJ
2013 MS in Mental Health Counseling, Manhattan College Graduate School, New York NY
My interest in psychology was triggered by my first immigration to Israel at the age of 18 when I observed my own family and other immigrants from my country undergo a transition from being a Jewish minority in Russia to being a majority in Israel, changing a lot of their values and views. This transition made me think about human behavior and how it relates to the individual’s environment.
When I immigrated to the US, I was given the opportunity to pursue my career and get the education it required. I got my BA in Psychology from Hunter College and MA in Mental Health Counseling at Manhattan College. While I was acquiring my bachelor degree in Psychology I volunteered for two years for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services facilitating three different types of group therapies for people with various mental illnesses. I find group dynamics the most fascinating aspect of psychology. Interpersonal relations are necessary to regulate all aspects of living. Group therapy helps to recreate our world, make our patterns of interaction more visible, and helps us see them clearly without disruptions in a safe and nurturing environment. This gives us the incredible opportunity to embrace the functional and change the dysfunctional ones with the support of the group and a facilitator. I find it even more fascinating that while working on yourself you are becoming an important part of somebody else’s change and progress. After my undergraduate school and during my masters program I worked at the Early Intervention Program at RCDS (National Mentoring Partnership organization for youth) conducting intakes for children with developmental delays. Later, I worked for SBRN (Spina Bifida Resource Network) with people with spina bifida of all ages, and their families helping them to overcome and deal with an array of medical, cognitive and psychological issues. We provided numerous services such as: counseling, advocating, and educating schools and organizations about the uniqueness of this developmental disorder and all the limitations that come with it. By the end of my master’s degree I did an internship at the VIP Community Services Organization, for people with substance abuse issues. I performed individual and group counseling utilizing different techniques and different approaches to fit to the needs of every individual.
My experiences of interning and working have given me the opportunity to work with people of all ages, individuals with addiction issues, and life- altering disabilities. I am equipped to help a person with a difficult life transition. I have experience working with people with physical and cognitive limitations, helping them adjust to and address the emotional component of their limitation. Working with substance abuse patients helped me gain a lot of experience with trauma, guilt, the emotional damage of physical and sexual abuse, gender role issues and family conflicts.