Topic 1: Your Career after Graduation & Licensure {by 5/26}

Based on last week’s readings/discussions (5/19) and the topics for this week’s class (5/26) 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, have ready to view the “MA LMHC Prep” documents under “Class Handouts.”


Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 5/26.  Post your two replies no later than 5/28.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Monica Teeven
    May 20, 2021 @ 12:34:16

    1. My first thought is “I really hope I end up working for a good organization where I can apply CBT concepts with all of my clients and not have a high caseload where I am unable to provide weekly sessions for all of my clients”. In addition, I also fear that I will not be able to find a job where I can work with adults and children. Being able to work with both populations is so important to me because I truly miss working with children. Plus, I also want to gain more experience working with adults whose main issue is not substance use related (since this was the case at my internship). I am not against working with individuals who have substance use disorders. However, I think what I would ideally would want if I did work with this population again, is to work with individuals who have a substance use disorder of alcohol. This particular population always intrigued me due to the societal norms around drinking alcohol.

    2. My biggest concern regarding obtaining my licensure is my anxiety about studying for the exam and then actually taking the exam itself. I know this is absolutely doable. However, I think I am just exhausted both physically and emotionally with the combination of grad school and the pandemic, and my desire to even think about studying for the exam at this time is low. Yet, these documents for obtaining licensure and studying for the licensing exam is already decreasing my anxiety a bit knowing that when the time does come to: study, take the exam, and apply for licensure; I will not be lost in the overall system.


    • Melanie Sergel
      May 20, 2021 @ 13:38:59

      Hi Monica!
      I also feel anxious about studying for the exam and taking it. I think you make a good point about motivation or desire being lower as I also feel exhausted from grad school, especially when we feel like there will be no longer a need to study for other exams or complete assignments. I also feel the same way about working for a good organization and I think this should be important to a lot of people as if we have a high caseload, it is harder to give our all to our clients and may get burnt out quicker.


    • Robert Salvucci
      May 25, 2021 @ 09:21:51

      Hey Monica!

      I also worry about keeping my caseload reasonable, I imagine that’ll involve a balance of working hard for a new employer while also setting and maintaining boundaries for ourselves. Seeing a wide range of clients is also an important goal, as it allows for growth and gaining more experience in the field to get a sense of what you like. One good thing about having experience with substance use in our internships is that many individuals have comorbid substance use disorders, and many of the concepts used in substance use also apply to behavior change and poor habits in general.

      Taking the LMHC exam does seem daunting! It sounds like you have some optimism despite your anxiety. I’m in a similar boat, the idea of taking the exam seems like quite a lot. By the time we’re eligible for LMHC, it looks like the pandemic will be a (mostly) non issue. Having the materials definitely makes things seem a lot more clear.


  2. Melanie Sergel
    May 20, 2021 @ 13:32:45

    1. I am very excited when I think about my next steps after graduating. The company I work for now has expressed interest in hiring me as a clinician after I graduate, which I would really like to continue working for. If this does not work out, I may feel a bit nervous about finding a good company to work for as I have heard horror stories about other companies in the field, along with working for one that had horrible management. Overall I feel a little nervous but also excited for my next professional step.

    2. My main concern about obtaining my licensure is studying for the exam, even though many may think this is an easy step. The exam contains case examples that you have to apply your clinical knowledge to which I think will be very different from other exams I have taken before. The clinicians I worked with at my internship have MSWs and their exam was not as intense as I think the LMHC exam is. It makes me feel a little overwhelmed when thinking about how much studying is enough studying. Another concern I have is failing the exam, which I do not think I am the only one who may worry about this. I have spoken to those in the field who have told me that they did fail the exam the first time and as this exam is not free nor cheap I do not want to fail several times like others have. I also have thoughts about when the best time to take it is, due to some people telling me to take it quickly after graduating and others telling me to wait a bit before taking it to gain more knowledge/experience in the field.


    • Robert Salvucci
      May 25, 2021 @ 09:30:42

      Hi Melanie!

      That’s great that you’ll have that opportunity where you work now! I feel similarly, I really like the company I work for now, and jumping ship seems like a risk. Hopefully wherever we end up will be a good learning experience regardless.
      It does seem a bit unclear as to when we’d be able to determine that we’re well prepared for the LMHC test. I’d imagine it’s like many other exams we’ve taken, where we can do our best to review the material. With the LMHC exam there’s also a lot of outside support and resources which is a good feeling, other people genuinely want to see us succeed an help out.


    • Monica Teeven
      May 25, 2021 @ 14:21:45

      Hey Mel! I was having the same thoughts about when I should take the LMHC exam. I have heard from other LMHC clinicians and others who are working towards becoming a LMHC it is best to take your time and not rush into taking the exam soon after graduation. This is because it is better for you to focus on your new job and learn the “ropes” of the business before focusing more time and energy on preparing to taking the exam. Part of me wants to take the exam ASAP just to get it out of the way. However, I understand that taking a break from taking exams after finishing grad school and focusing on my career is probably better for my mental health. In addition, at my internship there were multiple clinicians who were past Assumption Grad students and the ones who had already taken the LMHC exam (at least 3 clinicians) stated that you really need to study and prepare, but that the exam is absolutely doable. I hope that information helps decrease your anxiety a bit. 🙂


  3. Robert Salvucci
    May 25, 2021 @ 09:14:25

    1. I feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness regarding my next career steps. I’m unsure if I want to pursue a full time position at the outpatient center I’m currently employed at or look for a new position while staying fee for service a night or two a week. I’m excited for new opportunities regardless, and it will be nice to have an income that allows me to become financially independent. Looking for a new position opens a door to many new experiences and learning opportunities, however it also runs the risk of landing me in a position where I potentially don’t feel supported by staff/don’t get along with management etc. – Regardless, that’s always going to be a part of looking for a new position and ultimately shouldn’t be a deterrent. It’s also really exciting looking towards a full time schedule and settling into a role as a mental health professional.

    2. Applying for an LMHC is another step that brings mixed emotions. I believe that the preparation and taking of the test will help me grow as an academic and mental health professional. My primary concerns lie with balancing preparation for the test with the rest of my schedule, and feeling a bit overwhelmed with making sure I have all of the necessary materials and requirements checked off. I’m confident though that as I learn more and organize myself the process will feel more and more within my control and doable.


    • Monica Teeven
      May 25, 2021 @ 14:22:14

      Hi Bobby! I can understand the mixed thoughts and feelings that you are currently experiencing about whether to find a full-time mental health clinician job at another organization or stay at the organization where you are currently working part-time for a fee for service as a full-time clinician. It sounds like your current organization is supportive since you decided to stay there after your internship ended. My only advice to you is that if you enjoy the organization you are working for and are learning the skills you need to be a good mental health clinician, I would consider staying. This is mainly because after you graduate and are working towards licensure, you would greatly benefit from having good supportive coworkers and having as many learning opportunities as possible. However, not having a steady salary rate can be anxiety producing so I can also understand why you may want to look at other options that would dismiss those valid concerns.


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      May 27, 2021 @ 10:32:26

      Hi Bobby,

      I feel the exact same as you where I am unsure where to go with my career post graduation. Because this field has a variety of career options and different directions to go, choosing the right one can be/feel challenging. I also agree that we can land at a job that we don’t see eye to eye with staff but this could be in any field so I think putting our best foot forwards in any job will help greatly in our professional career. Lastly, I agree with the anxiousness regarding the licensure exam. Preparing for this exam will be nerve-wrecking but once graduated I believe we will have the knowledge that we need to pass the exam.


  4. Melanie Sergel
    May 25, 2021 @ 12:34:10

    Hi Bobby!
    While thinking about the exam this week, I also feel overwhelmed with making sure I will have all the requirements checked off. I think that if we stay organized with our paperwork and ensuring we are documenting our hours post graduate, we may start to feel better about the process. I also think that by reaching out to our supervisors and speaking to them about our concerns when we enter the field will be a great way to help us as they have already gone through the steps. I also do not think it would hurt to either stay at your company or find a new position, it definitely is scary not knowing management or the staff when entering a new company but make the decision on what you think will benefit your career the best.


  5. Jenna Nikolopoulos
    May 25, 2021 @ 22:55:04

    1. When I think about my next professional/career steps after graduating, I am excited as this means my long journey of school is finally coming to an end, but it also makes me nervous because I have been a student for so long and I am not totally confident in myself that I am ready to enter the “real world.” I also have been thinking about the kinds of jobs I might like to pursue after graduation and although I am not totally sure in what setting or population I would like to work with, I am hoping I work for a good organization that treats its employees well and can have a reasonable caseload. I briefly talked with my supervisor’s supervisor about what working at Open Sky would be like if I were to work there in the future and learned that each clinician has a caseload of about 28 clients. Initially, I thought that was a big number considering I had only 8 clients during my internship and felt that was a lot to handle. However, that was in addition to the coursework I had to do for my classes. After thinking about it more, I know that once I graduate I will be able to dedicate all my time on my job and my clients, but I don’t think I would like to start out with 28 clients. I feel like that would be a lot for me handle considering I will still be fairly new to working in the counseling field.

    2. My main concern about obtaining licensure is studying and actually passing the exam itself. Even though I will have more time after I graduate to study for the exam and will have all the study materials I need, I am worried about being able to retain the information I am studying and applying it to the exam. I have never been a good standardized test taker. Where I lack in my test taking abilities, I make up for with my grades. Unlike college entrance exams where my scores didn’t matter as much, the outcome of this exam matters as I will either pass and receive licensure or fail and have to retake the exam. I am not sure how much it costs to take the exam, but I can’t imagine it is reasonably priced and if it can be avoided, I would like to take the exam once. I think failing will reduce my confidence a lot in my abilities and make me question whether I am cut out for this kind of profession or not. I also am not sure if I should be taking the exam right after I graduate or wait until I gain some experience in the field. The people I have talked to about this have differing opinions on the matter and I am not sure which course of action is best.


    • Madison Armstrong
      May 28, 2021 @ 16:32:26

      Hi Jenna!
      I am also so excited that my long journey with school will also be coming to an end! It will definitely be a weird transition entering the “real world”, but I believe it will be so rewarding in the end. I agree with you that initially hearing a caseload of 28 clients would be overwhelming. I am definitely hoping that I am able to build up my caseload of clients more slowly, so it is a smoother transition and less overwhelming. I also have never been a good standardized test taker and am also worried about passing this exam. I could see it hurting my confidence if I didn’t pass the first time, but I also think it would be good to give myself the credit that this is a tough exam and not everyone passes their first try and that is okay.


  6. Madison Armstrong
    May 26, 2021 @ 10:44:20

    1. It is exciting to think about life after graduation including the next steps in my career. The company in which I did my internship has hired me which will be one less stressor for me for after graduation. I am excited to continue working and growing as an individual and mental health professional with this company. However, if this does not work out long-term, I know it will be nerve wrecking starting over building rapport with a supervisor and coworkers and learning the ins and outs of a new company. It is slightly overwhelming to think about not being a student anymore and beginning my post graduate career. It will certainly be different than what I am used to with my focus being work instead of work and school as it has been for the past several years.
    2. I am mostly concerned with taking the exam required for licensure. I have heard mixed opinions from other professionals of whether to take it immediately after graduation when everything is fresh in my mind or to wait a couple years and have more experience. I can see myself being the type of person to procrastinate taking it and waiting a couple years, but I feel as though taking the exam right away would be one less stressor and I could just focus on getting my hours without worrying about the impending exam. The other concern I have regarding the exam is how to study for it. This exam will be very different from the typical multiple choice or essay exams I am used to from school and pass/fail tests like this in general can be anxiety provoking.


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      May 27, 2021 @ 10:29:31

      Hi Madi,

      I think that is awesome that your company has hired you post graduation. That is a great way to jump start your career and really dive into a career. I also understand that anxiousness if this job does not work out long term or you decide to go in a different direction. The professional field of clinical psychology is vast and our career opportunities are endless. Lastly, I also agree that taking the licensure exam is nerve-wrecking and will be very different from other exams taken in school.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      May 27, 2021 @ 10:36:44

      Hi Madi! Congrats on getting a position at your place of internship, that’s great! I agree that staying in the same place of your internship will help you grow as an individual and professional and help you continue and strengthen your relationships with your supervisor and co-workers. I was hoping to do the same with my internship, but sadly there was no openings available. However, I have taken this as a good opportunity to experience working in a new and different environment and get to know new people within the field. I enjoyed working with the population I did, but now I can get some experience with a different population if I’d like, possibly children or adolescents.


  7. Shelby Piekarczyk
    May 27, 2021 @ 10:27:19

    1. When I think about my next steps in my professional career path I feel very overwhelmed. The field of Clinical Psychology has many different areas that a clinician can go into, so choosing the right path feels a bit intimidating. On the other hand, I am very excited to start my professional career and really determine my area of expertise and my passion.

    2. My biggest concern would be taking the licensure exam and making sure to pass this exam. I have large test anxiety so taking a test that determines if I am a licensed professional or not makes me feel very anxious. Additionally, I am not sure the best time to take the licensure exam, whether I should do this right after graduation or after I have worked in the field for a short time.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      May 27, 2021 @ 10:45:45

      Hi Shelby! I totally agree with you about taking the licensure exam and passing. I also have test anxiety myself and feel like no matter how much I study, I am still so nervous about whether I studied enough or if I actually retained the information I’m supposed to know. Test taking can be hard! Especially for a test like this that is very important for growing in our careers as professionals as it determines whether we can practice independently or not. On the bright side, if necessary, we can always take the exam more than once. All hope is not lost if we don’t pass the first time. We’ll just have to get right back in the saddle and continue studying!!


    • Madison Armstrong
      May 28, 2021 @ 16:33:29

      Hi Shelby!
      I also feel overwhelmed when thinking about my professional career path. You make a great point, that there really are so many different options of where and whom a clinician can work with. I am also excited to see where my area of expertise ends up being. Right now, I only have experience working with children and adolescents, so I would be curious to also explore working with adults or in a school setting. I am also concerned most about the licensure exam. I am hoping that as we practice and study for the exam it will feel less intimidating. However, as Jenna mentioned above it is definitely reassuring to know that we can take this exam more than once!


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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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