In my book, The Beginning Counselor’s Survival Guide, my main goal is to simplify the difficult-to-understand. For a career that is all about helping people, we certainly do make it complicated to get into sometimes! As the co-founder of Beginning Counselor: Building Your Ideal Internship I get questions all the time, many of them starting with, “What do they mean by _______?”
The fact is, with counseling licensure, as well as with counseling practice, there are a lot of gray areas. “This means this if this is the case…unless of course, this happens.”
That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some of the confusion, specifically about the concept of HOURS. By that I mean the specific number of hours we as counselors (or psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or other behavioral health professionals) are required to earn in order to switch from a provisionally licensed mental health professional to the real deal.
Imagine that on that you are at the grocery store on a Saturday morning for a quick stop to get some milk, and you spot one of your clients just a few places in front of you in the checkout line.
What do you do?
Should you wave to them? Walk up and ask if they were able to work things out with their significant other? Remind them of their appointment this Monday (since they missed their last one)? Ignore them and frantically try not to make eye contact?
If this situation is new to you, you may experience some panic.
Can’t you just feel the tension of this year’s political climate?
Look at you, reading a blog post about politics on a psychology website.
And who can blame you? Only about 24 million people may have tuned in to the live presidential debate between Clinton and Trump , but everyone is talking about it. With the presidential election coming up, you can bet your clipboard that your clients are going to bring this into session.
Most clinicians can agree that political conversations have little place in the therapy room. Angsting about presidential prospects and governmental goings-on appears to have limited healing power for our clients. Regardless, our clients continue to ask us where we stand on gun control, whether we are pro-life or pro-choice, and for whom we plan to vote.
So, what do we do when our clients want to talk politics?
I had just returned from a 3-week respite in Spain, and I was riding the post-vacation emotional high.
The quaint cobblestone streets of Seville left me with feelings of joy and amusement; the romantic plazas of Madrid left me with love; the vast beaches of Barcelona left me with serenity and awe; and the seafood paella in each of these cities left me with each of the top 10 positive emotions (mostly gratitude).
I was rejuvenated, and I was eager to dive back into work.
Psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, and other mental health professionals have the professional flexibility and freedom to work in a number of diverse settings.
Everything ranging from inpatient and outpatient hospitals, Veteran Affairs medical centers, college counseling centers, private practices, and community health centers, among many others.
It is often said that working at a community mental health center (CMHC) can be one of the most difficult and challenging sites for mental health work, and yet it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences.
Client termination, whether it is planned or unplanned, is difficult.
It can lead the clinician to having a multitude of emotions. After all, it is the ending of a relationship, which can be a challenging thing for any of us to go through.
To make it harder, most individuals are not taught appropriate techniques to end a relationship. How many of us plan on how we are going to conclude a relationship? We are social beings at heart and are not often focused on planning for the conclusion of a connection nor are we trained in healthy ways to process the ending of a relationship.
Despite these challenges, it is important for clinicians to always be focused on the possibility of termination in order to gain comfort and understanding of how it impacts both the client and clinician.
“What type of supervision will I receive at this training site?”
How many times have you asked this question during your interviews for practicum, pre-doctoral internship, or post-doctoral training sites? I recall my own apprehension about my clinical supervisors over the last few years.
I had the opportunity to experience wonderful clinical supervisors who provided excellent supervision. I attribute my professional and personal development as a clinical psychologist to the clinical supervisors I worked with during my graduate school training.
Planned client termination may be one of the hardest aspects of clinical work.
Although planned termination is often a great opportunity for both the client and therapist to gain additional insights, it can lead to a variety of thoughts and emotions that can be unpleasant for all involved.
Behavioral health students know how important it is to keep detailed records of their clinical hours during practicum and internship training, especially when those hours have to be signed off on by supervisors and submitted to their schools.
But what about after graduation?
All states and provinces require a certain number of supervised hours to be accrued in order to obtain a license for practice (along with other requirements). Each state and province has their own set of rules depending on the license you’re working toward.
Since licensure is the final step in your journey to becoming a licensed professional, it’s important that it go smoothly. Tracking hours is just one part of it, but it’s a very important part. Here are some tips, frequently asked questions, and instructions for tracking hours during this final step.
Imagine yourself in this scenario: You finally made it! After much hard work, you are now licensed and you recently accepted a job as a staff psychologist at a clinic in a great location. Your job description? You will provide therapy and assessment, maintain appropriate documentation, collaborate with other health providers, yada, yada, yada. That’s easy – you’ve done all this stuff before in your practica, internship, and fellowship – you’ve got this.
You will also have to supervise trainees. You had a small taste of that in your training. You fumble around a little as you figure it out, but you know enough about supervision to get by. After you get settled and feel like you have a good handle on things, you notice there are some other kinds of positions open to psychologists. These positions have additional responsibilities and they pay more money. They have titles like “Coordinator,“ “Director,” “Division Manager,” and “Chief Mental Health Officer.” You have heard these titles before and have known lots of people who have held them. Perhaps now you are ready to level up.