On Being a Counselor–An Interview

Hello everyone!

Here we are at Monday again. These weekends go by way too fast!

Last week, I was contacted by a graduate student of a Psychology program wondering if she could interview me about what I do via email. I’m always willing to help someone out on their career path to a counselor, especially since I was a student once myself, so of course I said yes!

I thought I would share with you today how the interview went down. Perhaps if any of you are interested in the Counseling profession or maybe just want to get a little more “behind the scenes” of a counselor’s thoughts then this will be interesting to you, as well. Enjoy!

 

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Circa 2007 – Graduation Day

1.) Where did you complete your bachelor’s degree?  What was your degree?

  I completed my Bachelor’s degree at University of the Cumberlands in 2007. My degree was in Psychology and my minor in Journalism and Music. 

2.) What was your first job with your bachelor’s degree? What was the pay? 

Well, my very first job was actually as a Substitute Teacher. I think they pay was around $70 per day. It took me almost a year to FINALLY get a job in my field of study after being told WAY too many times I needed more experience. My first job in my field of study (psychology related) was as a Placement Coordinator for Bluegrass Mental Health – Mental Retardation Board. The job was to call and interview foster parents for potential placement for children to see if they would be a good “fit”. It didn’t pay much at around $24,000, but it was a great gig! Sadly, not just 30 days after being hired, they lost their funding and I lost my job… 😦 It was a stressful day! 

3.) What made you choose to get your master’s?

This is kind of embarrassing, but when I was working on my Bachelor’s degree, for some reason I was under the assumption I would be able to get out and make a decent salary and have my own practice. After graduating, and experiencing tremendous frustration with finding a job, I quickly realized I would never be able to do what I really wanted and make a living without going back to school.

4.) Where did you get your master’s degree?

I got my master’s degree from Union College in 2013. 

5.) What was your master’s degree in?

My Master’s degree was in Counseling Psychology.

6.) What is your job now? Is there a significant pay difference now that you have your masters?

I work with incarcerated males as a Drug Addictions Counselor. I also have a part-time private practice as an Eating Disorder and Obesity specialist.  It seems as if most people don’t see a big difference in pay, just more so in job duties and responsibilities. I think if most counselors want to do well, then they need to consider private practice. 

7.) Tell me a crisis situation that you have been in and how you handled it?

At one point, I worked as a Social Worker and had an adolescent female teen we transported to a juvenile detention facility. She was considered a “flight risk” and demanded to go to the bathroom on the way to the center. I sensed this was an attempt to escape, so my partner and I escorted her to and from the restroom. However, I did NOT anticipate she would refuse to get into the car when we returned! She threatened to assault both me and my coworker if we did not let her leave. Honestly, I was so new I had no idea WHAT to do! Eventually, we were able to convince her we needed to go back into the store and let them know why we were still parked outside. While in the store, my coworker had the store attendant contact the police. The police officer came and escorted her the rest of the way in handcuffs. Crazy! 

8.) Do you feel that your emotions ever get involved with your job duties?

Sometimes… How could they not? The job is all about emotions! Especially when it comes to working with offenders. It is difficult to understand where they’re coming from when so many times I disagree with their reasoning. I have to remind myself that this is THEIR ILLNESS. Their distortions are what I am trying to help them with and I need to come from a place of understanding. 

9.) After the completion of your master’s degree do you regret choosing this field for your career?

No, I don’t. I absolutely love what I do! I DO think a Master’s degree is absolutely necessary, if not a Ph. D.! I DO think we need much more advocacy for better pay and salary for counselors. WE ARE NEEDED! In this day and age more than ever. There should be no reason we shouldn’t experience similar pay scale as to that of Nurse Practitioners, because essentially, Licensed Counselors are the practitioners of our field. 

I love what I do, and I love how versatile the position has become. We can work in almost any industry: marketing, criminal justice, health and wellness, corporate, community and even writing and teaching. There is SO MUCH we can do and we deserve adequate compensation.

10) As a drug addictions counselor, what means of treatment would you use in dealing with a drug addict? Please provide me an example of treatment. Do you use cognitive behavior therapy?

Yes! I use primarily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, with Motivational Interviewing. I work with groups most of the time and I have found a combination of these methods work the best. Hope that helps!

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed a little peek into what I do everyday. See you soon!

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