Year of Graduation: 2010
Major(s): Psychology and Communication
Current Position: Clinical Mental Health Counselor, UNITAS, New York, New York, Master's in Education-Clinical Mental Health Counseling, St. John's University, New York
Please give a brief description of your current position: Currently I provide individual and group counseling to clients that were referred by self, legal courts, hospitals and other agencies. Clients are seen for mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders etc. Our clinic treats adults. My agency is a not- for-profit organization and we utilize the fee-for-service structure. While this may not seem ideal, you have the potential to make almost twice as much as the hourly rate of the field as you increase your case load and practice effective time management. I currently have 26 clients.
What path did you follow to get to your current position? I believe that my journey towards this career began early in my life. I always had interest in the human condition: our similarities, our differences, our experiences, our hurts, and our joys. In high school, opportunities such as serving as a peer counselor piqued my interest, I also found myself being recommended for camp counselor positions. I heard about "Psychology" and thought I would become a psychologist. I applied to the College of Saint Benedict and majored in Psychology and Communication. They complemented each other well. As I learned more about different types of psychology, I realized that I was most interested in becoming a counselor. My on-campus job as a Resident Assistant was another confirmation of the direction I should take. I served as an RA for 2 years and one summer. I truly loved my job and getting to know, help and provide opportunities for connection and bonding was a complete joy. Before graduation I spoke to mentors and did research on different types of counselors and psychologists and I was most captivated by the description of a Clinical Mental Health counselor. I pursued this degree at St. John's University in Queens, New York. It was a 3 year program. I also served as a Graduate Assistant in the Residence Life office, which had a prerequisite of pursuing studies in a counseling field. In the last year of my academic program, I did my practicum and internship. This was very challenging and provided a lot of opportunity to grow and learn from my clients and others in the field. Through my internship, I met a professional who worked at Unitas and during my job search I reached out to her, applied for a job and was successful in getting hired. My official graduation date was 9/30/2015 and I started October 1st. I am on a Limited permit currently as there are 3000 required hours and an exam to become licensed. I have been building up my case load.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career? Seek to improve self awareness. Research different fields. Talk to others in the field.
What skills are important in your field?
- Listening Skills
- Efficient documentation
- Effective communication
- Conflict Resolution
- Active listening
- Skillfully applying therapeutic intervention based on different theoretic orientations
What are the most satisfying/rewarding parts of your position?
- For someone to share their personal life stories with me is an honor and humbling.
- Assisting others to realize their own potential to be well and live a meaningful life is also very rewarding.
- Always keeping in mind that it is a process that takes time and may not be solved in a few sessions. Even when there seems to be an obvious solution, a more holistic approach can promote change in long term coping and resilience.
- Maintaining and keeping up with the requirements of efficient documentation.
- Time management.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
- Serving as a Resident Assistant and various trainings we received
- Working at Student activities and Leadership Development and engaging in leadership training
- Serving on the Student Senate which gave me a platform to advocate for others. I was particularly passionate about advocating for the experiences of the international and multicultural community.
- Being a part of the international student community allowed me to learn about other cultures and form a close network of friends from all over the world. This aspect particularly enhances my multicultural skills.
- Mentors: Trish Doran, Adeline Spitzer, Maribeth Overland, Shelby Wentworth, S. Janelle Sietsema, and S. Lois Wedl
- Visiting Career Services where Mary Harlander-Locke truly took the time to help me develop an excellent resume
- Utilizing Counseling services