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Still Relevant After All These Years: HGI Intern Reflection on Experience at HGI

HGI has a long-standing tradition of welcoming learners. People have traveled from numerous places to visit HGI, to attend a training, to become an intern, or even to work in a Collaborative-Dialogic setting. Some people stay for a while. Others visit for a moment before their next travels. Regardless, once someone has experienced the possibilities that can be found at HGI, they undoubtedly take their experiences with them.


Just recently Harlene Anderson was in contact with Christina Donnell. Christina interned at HGI from 2000-2002. She will begin taking classes at Columbia University’s School of General Studies in the spring. During her application process for Columbia’s program, she mentioned her experience at HGI in a letter to Harlene.


“My essay for Columbia was about my academic and professional journey as a whole, with my experience at HGI being a very important experience along the way. I edited the paragraph a number of times before I got to this version, cutting out a lot of detail including references to HGI’s workshops in Germany, Mexico, and Galveston, and Harlene’s integration of the local culture and history into the workshops. Initially, I also referenced Harlene's refrain, “the conversation creates the possibilities”, and Leonard Bohanon’s recommendation of aikido classes.”


Below is an excerpt from Christina’s essay about her time at HGI,

Though I had experienced success in my legal career, it was in the study and practice of psychology that I began to find the sense of accomplishment and meaning that I had been longing for. As a student, I was finally able to hit my academic stride - I earned a 3.96 GPA in my marriage and family therapy master’s program, and a 3.975 GPA in my counseling psychology program. As a clinician, I was especially energized by my practicum at the Houston Galveston Institute (HGI), which espoused a post-modern, social constructionist approach to therapy. I was fascinated by HGI’s therapeutic philosophy, emphasizing the generative possibilities of dialogue. What is more, HGI was the site of a robust multicultural exchange, not unlike the home I grew up in. Practitioners came from all over the world to engage in HGI’s collaborative language systems approach. At one point, I even found myself translating the group counseling sessions of Spanish-speaking, male sex offenders into English for visiting Japanese psychiatrists. With the diversity of its population and the cutting-edge approach to helping people with mental health issues, HGI gave me a sense of intellectual and professional fulfillment that motivated me to pursue a doctorate in psychology.

-Christina Donnell, J.D.; M.A., Marriage and Family Therapy; M.Ed., Counseling Psychology; HGI Intern 2000 - 2002

Congratulations Christina, we are so excited to learn more about your learning experiences at Columbia. We are also thrilled that you had such a wonderful time at HGI. Thank you for sharing this with us.

If you have been a learner at HGI and would like to share more about your experiences or what you are currently up to, please feel free to reach out to Michael Pontello mpontello@talkhgi.org so that you can be featured on Behind the Curtains.

Thank you!

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