Topic 1: Your Career after Graduation and Licensure {by 5/30}

Based on last week’s readings/discussions (5/23) and the topics for this week’s class (5/30) consider the following two discussion points: (1) What are your initial thoughts and feelings when you think about your next professional/career steps after graduating? (2) Simply share any thoughts or concerns you may have about obtaining licensure (e.g., licensure exam, application) as a mental health professional.  Please see the three links under “LMHC Prep” on my website homepage – bottom of right-hand column.  Also, please review (and print to review in class) the “Regulating Mental Health Service Delivery” documents under “Class Handouts.”  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 5/30.  Post your two replies no later than 6/1.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aleksa Golloshi
    May 30, 2019 @ 09:31:59

    1) I’m initially worried when thinking about my next professional/career steps after graduating. I’m worried about getting a job that will be financially suitable as well as a job that will foster professional growth. I’m also worried about caseloads and the type of supervisor that I’ll have. I wonder if I will have a supervisor that will actually meet with me once a week and discuss my clients, or a supervisor that is “too busy” for me. I had such a great experience at my internship and I really hope my job is similar to this experience. Additionally, I’m worried about studying for the licensure exam. I wonder how many hours I’ll have to study during the week and if I’ll even be studying the right material.
    Along with worrying comes excitement when thinking about my next professional/career steps after graduating. I’ll finally be done with school and I’ll be in a field that I whole-heartedly enjoy. I really enjoyed my internship and working one-on-one with clients to problem-solve or discuss cognitive distortions. It’s so rewarding and exciting to see a client’s progress and to see their motivation to change. I’m also excited to read more books and studies that will add to my knowledge of certain disorders and different techniques. I want to continue reading and learning and I think it’ll be more enjoyable once I graduate because it’s not mandatory reading.

    2) My main concern about obtaining licensure is failing! I really, really hope I don’t fail. I know that I can retake the exam if I do fail and that’s reassuring but I really hope I study enough and am comfortable with the material and that this will help me pass. I have yet to review the application or exam questions so I don’t know what it consists of yet. This is somewhat reassuring to me because it helps me think that I can’t be afraid of something I know nothing about. I’ve heard that the exam is based on DSM-5 material, and also that you get a certain amount of points based on “how correctly” you answer the prompt. This worries me because what if I don’t answer well enough, enough to get the highest score, and then this will most likely freak me out and I’ll do badly on the other parts of the prompt. I understand that this may be me partaking in fortune-telling or catastrophizing, as so I try taking a step back and reassuring myself but these are worries I think I’ll have until I take the exam.

    Reply

    • Cassie McGrath
      May 30, 2019 @ 17:22:57

      Aleksa,

      I think you bring up a really good point about supervisors, and it is something that I often overlook because I have been so lucky in the past with the supervisors that I have had. But it is definitely something that we have to consider when applying for jobs and looking at who we are going to be working with. I even think the other clinicians and their focus is good to consider, as you may be working with them on cases. I also think your apprehensions are reasonable and I definitely share in the worries. Its kind of nice to know that we are all feeling something similar.

      Reply

  2. Stephanie Mourad
    May 30, 2019 @ 11:49:04

    1. It makes me nervous to think about the next step after graduating but I am also very excited for the next step. I have worked hard in this program and of course, there were times where I doubted myself but it worth it all in the end. I think about applying for jobs and I have already done some research just to see what is out there and available in the area. I am nervous for job interviews, it makes me anxious that I literally have to try and sell my talents and skills in order to get the position. I would like some practice with this as well as help with writing resumes and cover letters. I would also like help with understanding the positions I apply for. What jobs should I stay clear of and what jobs are good for me to help get my licensure?
    The other thought that I have is that I have made many friends in this program. This is important to me because I know that my friends, peers, and hopefully my professors at Assumption College will continue to help me in the future after I graduate. I have a good support system that I have gained from being in this program and I know that if I have a question or need to consult on help with a client, I can go to this support system.

    2. My major concern about obtaining my licensure exam is taking the exam itself. I do not know what the test content looks like and I am someone who does not do well on exams in general. I would just like to know what to expect from the exam and what I should study and focus on. My fear is that I fail. My fear is that once the exam is in front of me, I forget everything that I learned and know. My other concern about the licensure is making sure that I correctly obtain signatures and complete all of my hours. I would like more clarification on how to exactly fill out the application and if there are any specific rules that I need to follow.

    Reply

    • Aleksa Golloshi
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 17:38:15

      Hi Steph!

      I share these two exact feelings, nervousness and excitement. Like you, I am nervous about my future because I want to ensure that I get a good job but I’m also excited to start this new chapter of my life. I also share similar thoughts as yours regarding job interviews. I too feel like we’re basically selling our talents and ourselves to whoever will be interviewing us. This is nerve-wracking because what if they don’t like us or we don’t say all the right things? I get so many anxious thoughts when thinking about interviewing! I also would like to know what jobs I should maybe not apply for based on the information they’ve posted online, and what jobs will aid in my licensure. I think you touched upon a ton of important questions and topics that would be helpful to know!

      Reply

  3. Teresa DiTommaso
    May 30, 2019 @ 12:00:14

    1. In my opinion, if you go through all of this education and want to be a professional counselor, then licensure is the major goal one needs to be striving towards in order to have a successful career. However, I do not know which state I will be living in after graduation, so instead of projecting all these possible disasters that could happen in terms of licensure before I actually know where I am going to be, I have tried to instead focus on the setting and type of population in which I want to work following graduation.
    Due to the fact that I did my internship and practicum in an inpatient and partial hospitalization setting, I do not necessarily want to work in another inpatient setting right after graduation. However, that experience has taught me that I enjoy the crisis work and fast pace of a controlled environment such as a hospital. After talking with multiple professionals and examining my own feelings, I also feel as if I do not want to be doing full outpatient therapy 5 days a week. I would consider doing some outpatient therapy part-time at an agency, but I discovered that having the same client for longer periods of time is not what I want at this point in my career. Therefore, my ideal placement after graduation would be a residential setting with adolescents or adults. However, my experience working with older adults has also shown me I have a passion for that population as well. One of my other areas of interest is end-of-life care, so I would love the opportunity to work with adolescents, adults, and older adults who at that stage in their life.
    2. In terms of getting licensed, the most pressing question for me is whether or not we have to wait until our degree is conferred before we take the NCE or the NCMHCE. Since our program is completed upon the passing of the oral exam, does that equate to the completion of the graduate program or do we actually have to wait for December? Chapter 5 talked about how some individuals take the NCE at the end of their graduate career and some choose to take the NCMHCE further into their clinical experience post-masters. My other question is do you have to take the test physical in the same state you want to be licensed in, or can you take the exams in different states and that automatically applies to the state in which you are attempting to get licensed in.

    Reply

    • Stephanie Mourad
      May 31, 2019 @ 22:05:19

      Teresa,
      I like your attitude that you’re focusing more on the population and setting that you want to work with. I think it’s important for you to not focus on the disasters as you said because you still don’t know where you will live. So it is not worth worrying about and getting stressed out right now. I do like that you mentioned that your internship made you realize who you want to work with and what you want to stay away from after graduation. I also am confused as to when our hours actually count. Do our hours count right after we take the oral or do we have to wait until December?

      Reply

    • Allexys Burbo
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 15:09:41

      Teresa,

      Some of my own anxiety is related to what you express – regarding timelines and the sequence for completing various tasks post-graduation. Although I am typically organized, I am worried that I might misstep or oversee a critical task that will be important for obtaining licensure and moving forward in my career. The timeline is often presented as flexible and can vary but this is not necessarily reassuring. A more concrete understanding of what is required and what to anticipate post-completion of this program will make me feel more comfortable in moving forward.

      Reply

    • Cassie mcgrath
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 21:55:10

      Teresa,

      I think your worries are so valid because there is so much in question for you at this time. I definitely think that it’s interesting that after the experience you had you’re interested in working in residential. It’s definitely a fast paced population that is often set in crisis. In regards to your questions about testing I think those are great questions and important to know, even if you’re not sticking to massachusetts or even New Hampshire!

      Reply

  4. Matthew Lubomirski
    May 30, 2019 @ 13:00:25

    1.) At this stage I still feel very uncertain about what exactly I want to do after graduation. I know my goals in a broad sense such as finding a relevant job, acquiring supervision hours and pursuing licensure but I am very unsure on the specifics. I know I want to work mostly with adolescents but have a very hazy idea of what settings I could best accomplish that goal. I also need to balance that against my own preferences and style as an employee. I question how long I can or should stay out of work to find a job I am happy with instead of just settling for a job to pay the bills. While I am uncertain I am not worried or concerned about my future job hunt. I am more concerned about my future bills and loan payments and how that might impact my professional growth. I am very curious about finding a place that will help me gain more experience quickly and further my abilities as a therapist. While I enjoyed my internship placement I felt my opportunities to learn were a bit limited. So I am excited to see what I can gain from other professional environments.

    2.) I am overall not that concerned in regards to obtaining licensure. While I am sure the test may be difficult I am confident I will be prepared for it when the time comes. My biggest concern would probably come from the paperwork that needs to be in order. I feel like throughout my time in the program I have heard horror stories of someone not getting a certain formed sign or not having their hours forms in the right place and then having to scramble to go back and get all that in proper order.

    Reply

    • Matthew Collin
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 15:23:55

      Matt, I also feel as if I did not receive a holistic training from my internship. I also worry that I might not be prepared. I do, however, feel that this program has prepared us for adapting to changing work environments. I don’t know about you, but I’m more worried about understanding the politics behind each position and job? I worry that I may say the wrong thing to the wrong person, or even express concerns to the wrong person. I don’t think we have to worry about our skills. Not to be cocky, but I do believe we are all smart individuals who can adapt to our clients – no matter the drastic change. Experience helps, but how are we going to get it if we do not seek it? Let’s not let our anxieties get in the way of getting a good opportunity.

      Reply

  5. Matthew Collin
    May 30, 2019 @ 14:20:19

    1.) The next thoughts I have about my next career are 1.) what should I be doing, and what will I be happy in? My internship was less that satisfactory, even though I enjoyed working with clients. I also worry that I might not get a job that I’m thrilled with. The whole “you can do anything for two years” (implying before licensure) doesn’t sit well with me. I want to find something I enjoy. I also worry about the pay -this is huge. I worry I may have wasted my time getting a degree that will result in a 35 to 40 thousand dollar year job when I’m already 68 thousand dollars in debt. To be clear, I didn’t choose this profession for the money, but the pay is quite dismal starting out. I want to be able to support a rent payment, car payment, phone payment, car insurance, car payment and be able to eat every month. This isn’t even including the monthly student loan payment I must pay. All in all, I enjoy what I did in my internship and I enjoyed being a therapist, but at what cost? I love being a therapist, I love working with people, but my financial future is quite scary. I’m not looking for luxury, but I’m looking for basic needs.

    2.) As far as licensure goes, what is the process. What should I know? What paperwork do I need to fill out? How do I do all of this correctly? How long does it take? If I fail, when can I reapply?

    Reply

  6. Louis
    May 30, 2019 @ 16:19:37

    1. I feel a mixed feeling of opportunity and and feeling a bit astray. As I completed my internship, my agency had downsized and I decided to look into full time work in new agencies and potential new populations. As this is my, and I’m sure some others, only clinical experience thus far, there is an assessment of what I can do best with my education and experience in internship and a subtle daunting feeling of perhaps learning a brand new job, population, system, protocols, and procedure, while still appalling learned experiences from a different setting and my curriculum. This conflict explains this feeling opportunity for new experience and building a career path, yet feeling a bit astray looking for an opportunity I am qualified for and can apply my experience as well as the daunting feeling of learning a new job and all its program and ethical protocols. Especially as I an working with a bachelors degree until a take my oral exam and finish my masters. I am trying to find agencies that I can move into clinical positions once my masters is completed. This also come with a question of how much I should be making with my bachelors and how much this should change moving into clinical positions wit my maters. I currently feel a bit anxious waiting to find a career with an agency that I can build a career path into and collect the 2,000 pot maters hours. I am excited to find the career I will stick too for several years.

    2. I am nervous for 3 reasons in preparing for licensure from this moment on. The first worry is of course not passing the exam. I think we all have this fear and additionally I’ve heard that, like the road test for a drivers license, we will probably fail at least once. I think at first that is terrifying, yet considering normalizing failing for the first time, my only real concerns are time, money, and the decision on whether or not to take the exam directly after masters or once post masters hours are completed, I am still thinking about that. My second fear, is the idea that we have to collect 2000 hours in 2 years! and track it! I think the number is just huge at first glance considering that in a years worth of practicum and internship experience, only about 700 hours were collected. Yet this was part time hours and will most likely build much faster in a full time clinical position post maters. My last worry, is the terrifying idea of Ma changing its education, or accreditation requirements that do not match what I had originally received at assumption. This may mean that I would need to take additional courses or research the effects in accreditation requirement changes. These uncontrollable changes that may result in bumps in my licensure path is for sure a concern I have and preparing for when and if that happens.

    Reply

  7. Cassie McGrath
    May 30, 2019 @ 17:18:48

    1) When I start thinking about my career I honestly am excited. I think for me there is a normal amount of apprehension about finding a job and starting in the field. But I am excited about being able to build on my skill set. I am also excited about continuing to develop a niche that I want to practice in. I have found some populations that I really enjoy working with and I definitely am looking forward to continuing training in working with those populations and hopefully establishing myself within those populations. I am hoping that I can continue to grow in the field and possibly continue my education. I do not see this being the final masters that I pursue. Aside from my excitement, I am worried about some of the logistics, such as finding a job, making sure I receive all my hours for license, and paying back my loans. I know that all of this is nerve racking, and I am definitely worried on some level about it. I also know that there is only so much that I can control and I can only work as hard as I can to do what I can. I know that I will find a job, and I want to make sure that I am happy in my field.

    2) I have concerns about the licensing board finding fault with something on my paperwork and sending it back. It is unfortunate that when you hear stories of people applying for their LMHC you only hear the stories of things going horribly wrong. I am also worried about my hours and finding a job where I am able to see enough clients. Which brings me to client consistency and how difficult that can be to achieve and the impact that can have on your hours when applying for license. This makes me really nervous, I work in the field now as an ICC and am constantly dealing with clients no-showing me or cancelling last minute. It can be incredibly frustrating. And in some ways, working in a residential tempts me due to this, but also I have done that and I don’s know if I could do it again.

    Reply

    • Teresa DiTommaso
      May 31, 2019 @ 09:58:30

      Cassie,

      I can completely relate to the way you feel about working with particular populations. Through all of the uncertainty we are going to face, the one thing that I can be certain of is which population that we want to work with and the population that we do not want to work with. Once we decide which population we do not want to work with, we can narrow down where we want be and what type of work we are going to do. Coming right out of school, I feel as if the first job we have is important in determining the path of our career, so knowing which population we want to work is a key first step in determining our career.

      Reply

    • Stephanie Mourad
      May 31, 2019 @ 22:10:26

      Cassie,
      I like that you mentioned that you are excited to build on your skills. I too am looking forward to building my skills as a therapist and applying my skills in a work environment. I think that the internship has taught me significantly and I have gained skills from my internship but I would now like to apply and learn more from an actual job. I am also worried about making sure that I meet my hours and requirements. I still have additional questions on how to keep track of my hours and I still don’t fully understand why we have to stay at our job for 2 years. Or is it just better to stay there for application purposes? I guess I will ask during our next class.

      Reply

    • Allexys Burbo
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 14:26:18

      Cassie,

      Like what you have expressed, I too look forward to developing a focus while exploring various populations. As we continue to train and learn within the field, it will be exciting to see how our unique characteristics manifest and shape our future careers as counselors. As I am sure is the case for a number of my peers, the goal is to develop the skills of an effective therapist while also establishing and maintaining an identity that both serves our clients and reflects our own values. Additionally, I share your apprehension about finding a job that best suits my needs as a developing therapist. Over the course of my internship experience I was fortunate to learn a significant amount about myself and what will help me be successful within this profession. My hope is that in finding a job, I also find a placement that helps foster professional growth.

      Reply

    • Matthew Collin
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 15:30:16

      Cassie, I also feel worried something terrible will happen if I send in my paperwork wrong – that delays us at least another couple of months from our licensure. I also believe – like Dr. Volungis said – if you get a few graduate students in a room they will make themselves more anxious then they actually need to be. I’m starting to believe this. I don’t think there is much to worry about – I know this makes me seem like a hypocrite. I also worry about clerical errors that can set us back (what feels like an eternity). We’ll all do fine. We are all smart individuals. We just have to remember to look the paperwork over – maybe a few times for reassurance. You have to remember, we’ve gotten this far and you appear to have a great deal of experience in the field. This will take you to bigger and better places.

      Reply

  8. Allexys Burbo
    May 30, 2019 @ 17:19:38

    Above all other feelings, I am initially excited when thinking about what lies ahead post-graduation. The amount of time and work that was placed into this program has been especially fulfilling and I am overjoyed in anticipation of what the profession has to offer. I am looking forward to growing and learning both within the profession and as a professional. As I venture beyond the academic domain, my hope is to encounter other professionals who will provide guidance, insight and perspective. Furthermore, the goal is that throughout this process I am granted the opportunity to build upon my own foundation as a counselor by remaining open and flexible to the knowledge and skills of those I encounter – that is, both my colleagues and clients. While I mostly feel positive about the future of my career, I admit that I have some anxiety around maintaining balance. As many of my peers can attest, self-care and stress management continue to be a threat to my success. While my goal is to both establish and continuously reinforce strategies for maintaining balance, I often build my own barriers. For this reason, I am conscious that I need to be especially vigilant in practicing discipline in my behavior and mindset if only for my own self-preservation and emotional health (CBT anyone?). I am confident, however, that the proper context and systems of support will help foster this type of growth.

    My primary concern about obtaining licensure is in passing the licensure exam. While it has brought me this far into the program, I am uncertain about my ability to retain the information necessary for success on the exam. Although I am confident in my knowledge, acquired skills and overall capacity to be an effective counselor formal testing formats often leave me feeling anxious and scattered. Given the scope and range of information that we have obtained and will continue to accumulate leading to the time of the licensure exam, I am worried that the broad nature of this information will cause me to feel overwhelmed. My hope is that with the proper resources and guidance, much of this initial discomfort will be alleviated. I find some relief, however, in the comfort of knowing I will be provided with a network of support that includes several of my peers who I have grown close with throughout the duration of this program. The additional insights and perspectives that these individuals have imparted during this time has contributed a significant amount of reassurance that much of what is encountered throughout this process is a shared experience. For this reason, I am reminded that there is a system of support that I can depend on to help alleviate some of the discomfort that accompanies what lies ahead. This, in addition to the combination of knowledge that can be shared and obtained by leaning on my peers, further reinforces my belief that although unpredictable and anxiety provoking success in obtaining licensure is attainable.

    Reply

    • Teresa DiTommaso
      May 31, 2019 @ 10:05:01

      Allexys,

      I really like that you brought up the point of balancing self-care and the stress that we will experience in the professional world. Being a full-time professional counselor will be different than doing both and still being in the academic world. The academic world offers its own type of stressors, but I share your anxiety in transitioning full-time to balancing work and the amount of stress/burnout I am bound to feel once my first full-time counselor job begins. The stress of transitioning is hard in itself, so being very aware of our stress levels, what we need to do to take care ourselves, and how to take those appropriate steps will be key to maintaining success in the early time in our careers.

      Reply

    • Aleksa Golloshi
      Jun 01, 2019 @ 17:58:09

      Hi Allexys!

      I think it’s so great that you’re already aware of how your self-care routine is not as adequate as you’d want it to be. I believe having this insight before starting a job is helpful and hopefully you’ll soon spend some time thinking of ways to improve your self-care! I too find taking time for myself a challenge and it’s something I’ve been trying to be mindful of. I also really like how you mentioned that you’ll attempt to be open and flexible so that you grow and establish who you are as a counselor; I think this is such a positive and important mindset to have!

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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