On being the therapist in your family

Nicole De Khors / Burst / Used under licenseIf you didn’t know this about me, I’m a white woman. Most psychotherapists are white women. (See the demographics of psychologists as an example.) When I sat down to write about how families respond when a family member starts down the road to becoming a therapist, I knew that culture and family background would have a lot to do with it. So instead of just focusing on my own experience, I decided to also interview some of my colleagues, to see what it was like being the therapist in their families. The differences surprised me.

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Therapy Reimagined: A different kind of conference

This Friday and Saturday, I will be presenting at the Therapy Reimagined conference in Los Angeles. It’s a different kind of conference from any I’ve spoken at before, and I can’t wait. You should be there.

Different by design

Academic and professional conferences tend to focus on research and clinical application. Those are obviously critically important for keeping your practice up to date. But those conferences don’t tend to talk broadly about what it means to work in mental health. In other words, most conferences are more about doing therapy, and less about being a therapist.

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The price of professional accreditation

Shopify Partners / Burst / Used under licenseThe California School of Professional Psychology was the country’s first free-standing professional school of psychology. It was one once known for radically transforming the training mental health professionals. And at the 2013 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Anaheim, its founding President said the school made a major mistake by choosing to pursue APA accreditation for its Clinical Psychology programs.

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Can a religious therapist refuse to treat gay and lesbian clients?

Homosexuality symbolsIn 2009, Julea Ward, a counseling student at Eastern Michigan University, was in her school-assigned practicum when she was assigned a same-sex couple for treatment. She went to her supervisor and said she could not provide treatment to the couple, citing a conflict with her religious beliefs. The couple ultimately was assigned to a different counselor at the same agency, who did not have the same conflict. Ward thought she had handled the issue appropriately, as the clients received the treatment they had sought and she was not put in a position of needing to hide or compromise her beliefs. She understood the issue to have been successfully resolved.

Her graduate program, however, did not.

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Prologue: A poem for new grad students

Pen balletI wrote this poem several years ago, and republish it each fall as a welcome to students beginning their graduate studies in the mental health professions.

Every fall, the universities where I teach enroll dozens of new students into our family therapy programs. Our new students tend to be immensely talented, and many of them (as at any school) are also immensely anxious as they begin their journey.

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“Deferred tuition” is betting against yourself

Matthew Henry / Burst / Used under licenseA few years ago, I wrote about income share agreements. ISAs are a novel way of financing higher education. Under this model, rather than paying tuition, a student agrees to pay a percentage of their future earnings back to whatever entity agrees to finance the person’s education now. It’s now called deferred tuition, and it’s still a bad idea.

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The benefits of COAMFTE accreditation for MFT students

Shopify Partners / Burst / Used under licenseWith the exceptions of California and possibly Texas, around the US most graduate degree programs in marriage and family therapy are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Marital and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Of the 80 or so license-eligible MFT programs in California, only a handful are COAMFTE-accredited MFT programs. Without some background on professional accreditation and what it means, it is perfectly reasonable for prospective MFT students to wonder whether the benefits of COAMFTE accreditation are worth the added challenge of seeking out an accredited program.

Not everyone needs or will especially benefit from attending an accredited program. MFT programs that are not specifically accredited are still generally housed within accredited universities, making their degrees eligible for licensure. (More on that below.) But there are at least four areas where the benefits of program accreditation are likely to be significant for many students:

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How long does it take to become a counselor?

2010-07-20 Black windup alarm clock faceIf you are planning to become a counselor, it is important to give thought to the time and money it will take to work your way to licensure. The timing of steps along the way could impact your choices for when to get married, have children, or maintain employment in another field.

Presented here are the typical steps to a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license and some common timeframes. [Note: Specific license titles vary by state. LPCC and LCPC are also common, with the first “C” in each standing for “Clinical.”]

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