Her arm shot up almost of its own accord, and the words just spilled out: “I would love to work here someday.” Emily Cloch was seated in a crowded room of fellow graduate students as Rabbi Mark and Harriet delivered a presentation.
“I was blown away. Not only was I impressed with Beit T’Shuvah’s mission, but I was especially drawn to the misfit concept,” Emily relates. Harriet’s response to Emily’s heartfelt outburst was equally spontaneous, and Emily was invited in. Just like that, she had secured a summer internship. Emily packed up her car and drove halfway across the country to Los Angeles, into a room temporarily vacated by a rabbinical student (which made her mother happy).
In 2016, Emily graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Community Action and Social Change. She went on to the Jewish Communal Leadership Program, also at the University of Michigan, a 20-month Master’s Degree program requiring its scholars to do field work related to Judaism. Emily was leaning toward an interpersonal therapy practice and wanted to work in residential treatment, in which she had previous experience.
“I had never worked with addiction,” Emily says. “I had never thought about what it meant to be a Jew and an addict.” Emily spent 3 ½ months with us, running groups and counseling residents under supervision; she also prepared a new home group curriculum. “There was a steep learning curve when I arrived,” Emily says. “It was my first time working as a therapist in a residential setting. I learned how to develop a professional identity and to set boundaries. It also taught me to be humble, to trust in the process and to allow things to develop in their own time.”
Emily built quick rapport with her clients and developed an intimate understanding of Beit T’Shuvah’s workings. She also managed to incorporate her love of climbing, and invited groups of residents to her climbing gym. “I believe that change happens from community and relationships. Therapy doesn’t just happen in a room,” she says. “It can even happen in a climbing gym.”
We wish Emily all the best in her final year of studies, and hope we have not seen the last of her.