In response to mass shootings and California’s recent wildfires, many therapists and counselors have sought to support impacted areas. One way they’re doing so is with free services. Marketing therapy after disasters can be difficult, though. Done well, it reinforces our roles as community caregivers. It shows off the best of who we are as professionals. With some common mistakes, it can instead come off as a tacky form of marketing, accidentally pushing people in need away from help. Here’s how to tastefully and effectively offer counseling and therapy services to those in need.
When the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) started in 2007, mental health professionals all over the country expressed optimism and relief. Student debt is crushing younger mental health professionals — hear two stories, in their own words, here. The PSLF program promised those working in nonprofit agencies and in public service that if they just stuck it out for 10 years, the remainder of their direct student loans would be forgiven.
Any kind of mental health work is challenging, but nonprofit clinics and public systems are notoriously difficult to work in. They offer low pay, low-functioning clients, a ton of paperwork, and often, little support. It’s no wonder that many counties struggle to fill those jobs at all.
For those clinicians who experience the work as a calling, though, the PSLF program offered a lifeline. It would be a reward for staying put in positions that most therapists understandably leave. For those who otherwise faced a possible lifetime of debt, PSLF suggested a way out.
It’s not going well so far.
If you weren’t able to attend the first-ever Therapy Reimagined Conference on October 5-6 in Culver City, CA, then I’m sorry to say you missed some incredible speakers. Their presentations covered a number of topics that are relevant to the modern therapist, including navigating the prelicensed years, engaging in advocacy, increasing efficacy with clients, becoming more business-saavy, avoiding burnout, practicing more authentically as a therapist, and so much more!
As I listened to the various speakers (and took my turn up on the stage at one point), I marveled at how each individual was unique yet similar in certain regards. It led me to wonder, “How did this speaker get to where they are professionally?” Although everyone’s story was different, I believe we can learn quite a bit from what they had in common.
Licensing exams are a major milestone in the development of a professional counselor (specific license titles vary, but LPC, LPCC, and LMHC are common). While there are differences from state to state, most states use one or both of the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam and National Counselor Exam, and most states require that the exam be taken at the completion of at least two years of full-time, post-masters experience in supervised practice. As you approach completion of the experience necessary to take counselor licensing exams, how can you best prepare? Here are five things that can help:
A little more than two years ago now, I left my position as an Associate Professor at Alliant International University in Los Angeles. Many people have asked me since then why I left full time academic work. The position was relatively well-paid, with good job security. I had good colleagues, many of whom are friends to this day. I had the closest thing to tenure that the university offered: A five-year rolling contract. And I was teaching and doing research, both of which I love.
I’ve gotten used to providing a diplomatic answer to that question. My wife and I were starting a family, and the time had come for me to make a change. That’s true, it’s just purposefully incomplete. Here’s the full story.
Therapists and counselors are a community’s experts in relationships. It only makes sense that our occupation impacts our personal relationships. With our friends, we often aren’t just their friend who happens to be a therapist. We’re their therapist friend.
Being the therapist friend affects how our loved ones respond to us. In most situations, our opinions are respected. In some, we can get written off as arrogant — something that typically doesn’t happen to, say, plumbers who speak confidently about how plumbing works.
“Shame” is now a verb in therapist circles. It’s usually one we use pejoratively. We scold others for shaming, apparently with no sense of irony. We shame people for shaming other people.
As a noun, shame refers to a sense of sadness and embarrassment upon recognizing (or being told) that you’ve done something wrong. Cultures around the world understand the concept. We can safely say that experiencing shame is part of being human.
A couple of years ago, I appeared on an episode of the Talking Therapy podcast. I love the show. RJ Thomas and John Webber are good guys and good hosts, and I’ve thought that since before they invited me on. Their show is rightly popular. They’ve even featured one of the world’s most prominent therapists: Dr. Susan Johnson.
Johnson developed Emotionally Focused Therapy, which I use in my own practice with distressed couples. As you can imagine, a lot of her interview focused on couples and couple therapy. Almost as an aside, early in the interview, Webber noted that half of US marriages end in divorce. That’s flat wrong.
So I went back on the show to yell at him about it.
Graduate programs around the state use Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs to teach their students. If you’re a grad student in California, and your program doesn’t use it, they should. It’s a good desk reference for clinicians as well, considering how often the law changes. If you’re licensed, you can now meet your license renewal requirement for CE in Law and Ethics by reading Basics.
If 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.