During my second year in grad school and after a lot of thought, I had finally chosen to specialize in geriatric psychology. During one of our bi-weekly check-ins, my mentor asked, “Why don’t you apply to the VA?” I’m glad he asked the question.
I knew the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) was massive. As a respected training site, I also knew there could be many applications for a limited number of openings.
That said, I decided to apply, and I’m glad I did.
Many couples must separate physically for a variety of reasons, including career and academic advancement, military deployment, immigration restrictions, or familial obligations. Long distance relationships are becoming increasingly common  and graduate students and early careers professionals have even more reasons why they might need to live apart from their partners.
Being prepared by knowing the challenges ahead can help to ensure that your relationship and career are actually strengthened by the time apart.
Ending a session on time and doing so gracefully can be tricky. There are a plethora of ideas out there of how to end a session on time, such as setting a timer or providing a nonverbal cue, and many of those suggestions may be effective in ending a session on time.
However, very few, if any, address implementation of those techniques fluidly and in a manner that is natural and least disruptive to the client’s process. Why does this matter?
If you have been following my blog postings for Time2Track, you’ve read about what kind of training programs are available to those of you interested in, using the term broadly, forensic mental health work. I’ve also discussed the complexities of instituting and maintaining boundaries with forensic clients.
Now, I’m going to break down the forensic practicum placement process in three parts. Part 1 talked about how you choose and prepare for an interview at a forensic-oriented site. (I use the term “forensic-oriented” to be broadly inclusive of any mental health training site for masters or doctoral level trainees that will work in a place where psychology and the law intersect.)
Part 2 (below) will touch on what to do after you’ve accepted your forensic placement offer but before you actually begin your training.
The first time I worked with a physician was during my training as a suicide risk assessment consultant in a hospital.
My job was simple: give the nice doctor a brief run-through of the patient presentation and make recommendations for treatment. I walked into the doctor’s office, smiled, took a deep breath, and I began to regale them with the tale of my time with the patient and how they made me feel.
After about thirty seconds, my story was cut short.
The doctor shook his head, raised his hand, and said “you’re burning my time buddy, just tell me what I need to do.” Caught off guard and sweating profusely, I managed to stumble through some recommendations before the physician said “sounds great” and turned back to his notes.
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.
Hospitals are their own worlds, and psychiatric units even more so. Most of us don’t know much of what happens in these mysterious places, leaving us to pop culture and our own imaginations to try to figure it out.
For example, will these units be like Girl, Interrupted, or look like one of Carrie Mathison’s hospital stays on Homeland?
Psychiatric units are generally locked, but you, dear reader, have the keys – and you’re headed in. Here are six tips they don’t teach you in school.
Imagine that you are nervously sitting in class as your professor begins to hand back your graded midterm. You wait in anticipation as she slides your upside down paper toward you. You take a deep breath as you flip the paper over to see that you passed. Just as you breathe a sigh of relief, you begin to look around and wonder, “What did everyone else get?”
You get a feeling of unease as you ponder this question. You scan the room, wondering whether or not to ask your classmates what they received on the test. You cannot explain why you are so eager to know, yet the desire is there. The need to know where you are in comparison to others is strong, and you do not know why.
I have the answer, and it is one word: Competition.
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is youer than you! – Dr. Seuss
There are many lessons I learned from Dr. Seuss: try new things, respect others, and know that making mistakes helps you grow. When I look back over my graduate school career, I have no doubt that I went right along with the Doctor’s orders. I was true to myself and tailored each year of my practicum experiences to cater to my strengths and interests.
As a result, I was able to stand out on my internship applications and develop an area of specialization as an early career psychologist.
With this article, I hope to impart some knowledge and suggestions that may help you on that path in tailoring your training experiences and building a competitive CV.
Graduate students face unique pressures as a part of the typical doctoral experience, including isolation in projects of indeterminate length, disproportionately little pay for excessive amounts of time and effort, and supervisory relationships that can result in the success or failure of a graduate degree.
Graduate students also bear the increased responsibilities of adulthood, such as copious amounts of debt from student loans, providing spousal and/or family support, and the foreknowledge of an uncertain career trajectory following graduation.
Graduate students suffer high rates of mental health issues. A survey of graduate students at the University of California revealed that approximately 50% of graduate students suffer from some form of mental illness . Up to 87% of graduate students report feelings of anxiety, 68% feelings of depression, and up to 19% of cases report suicidal ideation .
Even students without clinically significant levels of depression or anxiety experience symptoms that hinder their work and quality of life.