In late 2017, I sat down with my friends at LA-CAMFT for a wide-ranging discussion of issues that impact prelicensed therapists. Advocacy is sort of my jam, so we knew that advocacy would be a big part of the discussion. But we also got to talk about interviews, health insurance, employment, exams, and a lot of other issues relevant to early-career therapists.
Back in January, we launched #PostThePay in hopes of making life a little bit easier for prelicensed therapists and those who employ them. As we described then, too much time is wasted by those on both sides when applicants for a therapy or counseling job wouldn’t take the pay scale that the job offers. Furthermore, California law now requires that employers provide the pay scale to any applicant who asks — so why not just put it in a job announcement?
We’ve talked here many a time about employment of prelicensed therapists. Most of our discussion has focused on employer abuses and how you can push back. But of course it’s worth noting that plenty of employers are fantastic, and that even a lot of the illegality in employment arrangements can be chalked up to well-meaning mistakes rather than purposeful villainy. It is in that spirit that we approach what seems to be one of the most common structures for paying prelicensed therapists who work in private practices here in California: Fee splitting.
Today, too many job listings for therapists and counselors are vague about pay, if they mention it at all. It’s part of a culture in mental health that keeps salaries low and professionals feeling disempowered. When employers #PostThePay — even as a range — both employers and applicants benefit.
That’s why we’re launching a social campaign encouraging employers to do exactly that.
Under a bill signed into law last week by Governor Jerry Brown, counselors (PCCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) in California who have completed their graduate degrees but are not yet licensed will see their title change from “Intern” to “Associate” on January 1, 2018. [Originally published September 26, 2016. Updated August 2, 2017: Added FAQ section. Republished December 19, 2017.]
Imagine seeing a job listing for a paid position that’s located close to home, involves working with the client population of your dreams, and offers excellent benefits. Excited to learn more, you begin to read over the job description. Upon reaching the “Qualifications” section, you see unfamiliar terminology. You start to question whether you meet the requirements for this position, and you wonder whether it’s worth applying for the position at all.
Many of us have encountered this situation and struggled to make sense of MFT job listing lingo. Fortunately, this article can provide clarification on several terms that may be unfamiliar to prelicensed MFTs who are seeking their first paid clinical opportunity.
Streamlining licensure. Banning reparative therapy for minors. Fixing problems in child abuse reporting. Changing “interns” to “associates.” Saving Psychotherapy.
I’ve spent years now fighting for major changes in the world of mental health care, and winning. Many of the changes I’ve played a role in were ones that I was told would be impossible.
Today we launch Ben Caldwell Labs, the most important project of my career. The change I’m fighting for this time involves you.
The US Senate may take action this week on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, a last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. If Graham-Cassidy becomes law, the consequences for US mental health providers and their clients would be disastrous.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will not score the bill before a September 30 deadline for Senators to vote on it. But estimates suggest that under the bill, at least 16 million Americans would lose health insurance entirely after 10 years, given the bill’s similarity to prior Republican health care bills. This would leave millions paying out of pocket for mental health care that is currently covered by insurance.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of applications. Caldwell-Clark, a nonprofit I co-founded, regularly hires prelicensed MFTs for paid positions. We tend to get good interest in those openings when they happen, with many good candidates applying. And in the years I spent as core faculty for a graduate program, I saw hundreds of applications from students eager to get in to that program.
In both contexts, the application process can be nerve-wracking for applicants, and frustrating for people like me who are responsible for evaluating the applications. People who would likely be great students, great employees, and great therapists can easily be overlooked on the basis of a few mistakes in their application materials.
Here are some things you can do to make your application for a prelicensed therapist position as strong as it can be.
Therapists, as a group, are pretty friendly people. We entered into a helping profession, one that relies on our ability to connect with a wide range of people. Generally speaking, we try to assume the best of others, whether friends or strangers. We go to great lengths to avoid jumping to negative conclusions. These are all great traits, and useful in the therapy room.
These same traits can also leave therapists and counselors vulnerable, though. Our desire to be on good terms with those around us can make it difficult when their behavior doesn’t line up with what we want or need. We’re trained and skilled at reducing conflict, so we’re typically not eager to jump into it (or create it).
Often, the frustrating things that other people and organizations do to therapists aren’t personal. They result from those other people and organizations doing exactly what they are supposed to do. They aren’t your friends, and they aren’t supposed to be. Understanding that can make it a lot easier and less stressful to deal with them.