Part two of The Counsellor's Journey talks about what the field of mental health truly looks like once you have that degree. It gives you a glimpse of what you can expect post grad.
What is the reality of ‘after graduation'? Did you find a job? If so, was it difficult?
Honestly, it is very difficult, kind of like teaching in Ottawa. There are tons of people in private practice because community associations only have so many positions and they don't have openings very often, unless you want to be working for an employee assistance program doing phone crisis counselling, which is not my thing. On another note it's important to explore different problem areas that you will be working with and figure out your boundaries. From an emotional perspective I know that I have trouble working with children and female victims of sexual assault/rape. I don't work with those populations so that my mental health does not suffer as a result.
In your opinion, how do you prepare to enter the workforce before being done school?
Get involved with the CCPA, become a member of the NCR chapter (which I am the president of actually). It's a group for counsellors by counsellors to network and do lots of professional development. Click here for the website.
What was the hardest thing you experienced during school?
The work was easy because there are not any exams and everything you do has a practical application. For me my biggest struggle was taking on too many responsibilities outside of school in terms of work and volunteering to advance my career. I was really bad at taking care of myself and actually burnt out as a result of it. So taking care of yourself can easily be the hardest part.
Before working as a counsellor did you work with an association in the past? What did you like and dislike?
I started my own private practice as I was unable to get the type of counselling position that I wanted. When I graduated I looked for positions but the only openings I could find were with different programs that were specifically looking for phone line crisis counsellors, which is not my area of specialization.
I did work briefly as a social worker for a community organization, but I quickly learned that social work is very different from counselling. So I left the organization to pursue my private practice full-time.