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"People Skills Are Important, Listen To People...
What has surprised me the most is the genuine honesty people entrust in their mental health counselors. Furthermore, I was surprised to find that much of my time is spent doing paperwork rather than sitting with patients and talking with them." (Mental Disability Counselor; 2013)
I was surprised at how dependent most counseling agencies are on grants. Some positions are only open for a year or two, then they totally disappear when the grant runs out." (Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Counselor; 2013)
"Think Of Anything,...
I was surprised that the job would be so fulfilling. I really enjoy working in my career." (Counselor; 2013)
"The World Is Your Oyster...
I didn't know that when I started this profession, it would teach me a so much about myself. I never thought I could have fun at work while helping people." (MHMR Representative; 2013)
"Self-Care In Social Work...
I think others would be surprised to find that social workers can do a lot more than the stereotype suggests. There is a lot of flexibility in the field, and you can move among different areas a lot easier than if your degree was specifically in something like counseling." (Mental Health Social Worker; 2013)
I'm surprised with how difficult it can be to find resources for folks in need sometimes. I'm surprised by how much red tape and time it takes to get the job done." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"Research Counseling Opportunities And Credential Requirements...
I was surprised at how difficult it was to get family involvement working with children placed in residential treatment." (Family Counselor; 2013)
I was surprised at how challenging my job can be. I was surprised at how many hours after I'm not working that I still spend on the job." (Counselor; 2013)
"Learn To Advocate For Yourself...
I've found it surprising how misinformed a lot of others in the mental health field are regarding which licenses exist and what the scope of each is. For instance, a lot of program directors and fellow clinicians think that only social workers are independently licensed to diagnose and see clients for therapy." (Expressive Therapist And LMHC; 2013)
"Learn As Much As You Can About Treatment Protocols...
I was surprised regarding the vast array of mental health diagnoses I would work with. It takes a lot of learning beyond graduate school to understand treatment protocols." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)
"Know Your Degree...
I was surprised that people were so willing to open up to me about very personal issues. I always thought I would meet with more resistance." (Family Counselor; 2013)
"Keep The Baggage At Work...
I was surprised at how much continuous training is required even if you've been on the job for 20 years. It's good as a refresher and to learn new treatment techniques." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)
"It's All About Multitasking...
I was surprised about the bureaucratic knowledge I would have to absorb in the course of my day" (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"Is There A Licensed Counselor At Your Work Center...
Working with developmentally disabled adults that needed social skills counseling and support" (Counselor; 2013)
"How To Not Suffer From Burn Out...
That the job can take a toll on you mentally. Burn out is common as you do take home some of your problems from work. You also become very involved with the clients that you work with." (Psycho Social Skills Rehabilitator; 2013)
"Happiness Vs. Misery...
It is surprising how much you really end up involved and caring about your consumers. It is surprising how much "off the clock" work you are willing to do to help your consumers." (Substance Abuse Counselor; 2013)
"Gain Experience With Various Populations...
I was surprised by the lack of mental health services available to the uninsured and underinsured. I was also surprised by how often people ask for medication to solve their problems because they see it as a 'quick fix.'" (Mental Health Clinician; 2013)
"Every Day In The Field Is A New Day...
I'm surprised to see that there are so many families with as severe issues as I'm exposed to as a Mental Health Counselor working in a classroom. It's a shame to see the impact that neglect and abuse have had on a child's ability to focus in the classroom and learn." (Behavioral Specialist; 2013)
"Don't Put Off Getting Your License Once School Is Finished."...
I was surprised how much the various life stages that I went through personally impacted my counseling philosophy over the years. It also played a large role in defining what kinds of cases I eventually decided to focus on." (Marriage And Family Therapist; 2013)
"Develop A Specialty...
I have been most surprised over time with the amount of politics I deal with in my job on a daily basis. I frequently find that I am hindered from providing the best clinical care by policies implemented by the higher-ups who have no direct contact with the clients we serve." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
I was surprised as to how stressful the job could be in terms of in company politics and how much so-called non-profit companies are all about the profit despite how taxing it is on its staff. While doing therapy with clients can be stressful, client issues are usually not my main stressor at work, rather, trying to fulfill extremely high standards of productivity." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"I quickly learned that not only are managers incompetent, that they are mostly ignorant concerning clinical issues. Very disappointed that most of the work does NOT involve personal growth work in the way I had imagined, but mostly trying to "smoke out" drug-seekers and disability seekers. There is less prestige and value in Therapy than I believe is appropriate." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"I have been most surprised at how rewarding this field has been. It is not a very lucrative field, but the payout in just witnessing human growth has been especially meaningful." (Mental Health Counselor (LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor); 2013)
"I was surprised by how much the relationships with my clients triggered my own issues, particularly my challenges with setting boundaries and the tendency to get over involved emotionally. It could be an emotionally exhausting job, and without good self-care skills, one's own emotional and physical health can be compromised." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"I was surprised that there is more paper work to be Handled and that being well organized with your papers can help in the long run." (Family Counselor; 2013)
"I was surprised at how extensive my career is in terms of how intensive and demanding it can be. I not only work during the week, but my weekends are usually used to catch up on work that didn't get done during the week." (Behavior Analyst; 2013)
"I was surprised how important it is to take insurance in order to make a living. Getting credentialed with insurance companies is a necessity." (Mental Health Counselor; 2013)
"I was surprised at how distrustful some people are of mental health professionals. I have a lot of people that think that I am a quack or constantly analyzing people." (Psychologist; 2013)
"I was surprised just how big a job at a state mental facility is. I thought it was just overseeing the patients. But, there is so much more than that. You are involved the whole time you work with the individual patients. You may get a break here and there, but for the most part you have to be on your toes and ready to react to anything." (Health Service Worker; 2013)
"I was surprised by how difficult it is to become a school counselor if you were never a teacher first. However, any teacher, regardless of counseling training, can easily become certified as a school counselor in the state of Alabama. Not only did I have a Psych. degree, and a Master's degree, I still had to receive 2 years of supervision at my own cost in order to work as a school counselor. If I had been a classroom teacher, the supervision would not have been required." (School Counselor; 2013)
"I am surprised that the hospital is mostly run by women. The ratio is 8 women for every 1 guy. very cool." (Anesthesia Tech; 2013)
"I was surprised to find how challenging it is for clients to follow thru with their commitment to counseling. I thought that since they wanted to come to counseling they would do whatever it took on their part to make the changes they need. I was surprised to find that in private practice it is challenging to get clients to attend sessions and be willing to pay. The private practice where I work does not take insurance so this has been challenging." (Counselor; 2013)
"Work daily with many types of people; sometimes weird hours; can be mentally taxing." (Health Worker; 2012)
"I was surprised that my college education in psychology taught me absolutely nothing about working with the mentally ill." (Case Manager; 2012)
"I was surprised at the degree to which the functional aspects of being a mental health therapist are not really covered in school. There is a great deal of practical information to the vocation that is not really given appropriate attention in graduate training." (Mental Health Therapist; 2012)
"I was surprised that patient care is often compromised by ability to pay. Even though I work at a non profit for a program that provides free services, our services are short term. We are often unable to connect people with long term mental health treatment due to their inability to pay and lack of insurance coverage." (Counselor; 2012)
Behavioral Heath Professional: "The most rewarding part of my job is the satisfaction of knowing that I am making a positive difference in someone's life. I get to work with people from all walks of life and make a pretty decent wage from doing so. The worst parts about my job is getting close to families after working with them for a long time, and then having to move on. Another part of my job which I find frustrating is when I work for months and months with a family who is unwilling to change behaviors in order to improve their lives." (2011)
Rehab Case Manager: "One of the best parts of the career is actually developing and implementing a plan that actually works to help a client. Another great thing about it is the rapport you build with the clients and the great relationships made between you and your clients. The curriculum used to train clients is well written and easy to teach in a way the clients can understand. Some of the worst parts include the strict demand for all documentation to be turned in daily, because you've been out in the field all day seeing clients and then have to go back to the office and write notes the rest of the work day, which is never long enough. Also, it is frustrating when you drive to clients' houses and they have moved, been evicted, disappeared, etc., and you have to try to locate them." (2011)
Professional Counselor: "The best part of my job is when clients are getting well and they have reached their clinical goals. For example, if I am working with a depressed client, I am very pleased when their depression is not present. The worst part of my job is dealing with high risk suicidal clients as this can be very nerve wracking and requires that I make sure my clients are safe. I see a range of clients to ensure I do not only see high risk clients." (2011)
"The best parts of the job are being able to discharge people for achieving their goals and learning how to manage symptoms. I also love working with so many different people. Each client brings something new to the table when we meet, so there is little repetition in the work. The worst part of the job is the cuts in services that happen quite frequently. This can mean getting less time to spend with a client or seeing services denied to people who really need them. I also don't like all of the paperwork that is involved in getting services authorized." (2010)
Rehabilitation And Mental Health Counselor/ Adjunct Professor: "The worst part of the job is seeing individuals and families struggling with medical conditions and not getting active treatment to better their social, emotional, economic, and physical well being. The best part of the job is hearing expressions of gratitude from individuals and families turning a difficult situation into a healthy and dynamic lifestyle." (2010)
Residential Counselor: "The worst part of the job is when a patient gets verbally and physically abusive. Or when the patients get stubborn and refuse to do what's required of them: taking a shower, for example, or completing a workout. The best part is when the men are happy, laughing, joking with one another and comfortable and content with their surroundings. Also when you come back for your next shift and they greet you with a smile and a "Hello, how was your day?"" (2010)
Clinical First Responder: "My job is the best because no two days are ever the same and I have the luxury of working with so many different people every day. I get to ride in the police cruiser and help people in need. The worst part of my job is that everyone I meet is in crisis and there is rarely ever any good news to tell people. I have had to make some difficult decisions in order to keep people safe in the long run." (2009)
Mental Health Counselor: "Understand that the available jobs in anything but the Private Practice arena can have variable hours, will not necessarily be in a nice office (or an office at all), and quite possibly will have clients who are not very motivated for change. These positions are much more like factory work (mindless repetitive task completion for a possibly non-reality based, overly dramatic or unfocused boss/organization). If your business model involves accepting managed care insurance, that is it's own can of worms." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor (LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor): "Make sure that you become licensed or registered in your field and that you maintain your training through the years. It is important to stay informed of new techniques, methods, and research." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "Be ready to use skills that you didn't know you had or perform tasks that you didn't expect would be part of the job -- be flexible and resourceful." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "Make sure you have done your own mental health work and really understand what is motivating you to be in this profession. Also, be sure your self-care skills are strong, which will be essential for longevity in this demanding and often low paying career." (2013)
Family Counselor: "Make sure that you don't overload your self with many clients, work on something different in between or else you will end up burned" (2013)
Behavior Analyst: "If you see patients as a counselor, therapist, etc. try to take time away from your clients. If clients are too demanding, set some boundaries and let them know you can't help them right at that moment." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "Make sure that your schooling lines up with the correct Cacrep Accreditation needed for licensing in your state, if it doesn't you will need to take extra classes." (2013)
Psychologist: "Study hard in school. Always devote as much time as possible to studying. You have time for parties and fun later." (2013)
Health Service Worker: "If you are interested in a healthcare career you should(while you are taking classes) volunteer, or even gain employment with a healthcare facility to see if this is something you want to pursue." (2013)
School Counselor: "Make sure that you choose a program that is CACREP accredited. There are some Masters programs, believe it or not, that are not accredited. If you intend to work in a school especially, you need to be from a CACREP accredited program. If not, you run the risk of complementing your state certification." (2013)
Mental Health Social Worker: "Make sure that you have sufficient self-care skills as the demands of the job can take a toll on you personally and professionally. Consider the various fields and ponder what kind of work you are able to handle emotionally." (2013)
Expressive Therapist And LMHC: "Be prepared to clearly explain the scope of your license and clinical training to other professionals who don't understand your qualifications." (2013)
Mental Disability Counselor: "Make sure you know what the job entails before getting into it and always be sure to talk to any supervisor you have to see if he gives you green light toward a change you want to pursue. Furthermore, make sure you know how to handle a range of people; increase your people skills." (2013)
Psycho Social Skills Rehabilitator: "If you feel burnt out, make time for yourself." (2013)
Counselor: "Make sure that you explore all options regarding credentialing. Make sure that you explore the option to look into hospital administration if you plan to move up." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "Learn self-care skills and how to maintain boundaries early on. It will make your work easier and more successful."" (2013)
Substance Abuse Counselor: "Make sure you are happy doing what you will be doing, otherwise you will be miserable." (2013)
Behavioral Specialist: "There's theory, and then there's practice. The only constant in life is change." (2013)
Family Counselor: "Carefully research the different counseling areas, credential requirements and how these fit into your overall career goals." (2013)
Counselor: "Make sure to be open minded." (2013)
Marriage And Family Therapist: "Learn as much as you can about specific mental health diagnoses and treatment protocols during graduate school. Once you start an internship, ask as many questions as you can about treatment protocols. The more you learn about treatment protocols during your internships, the more satisfied you will be when you are licensed." (2013)
MHMR Representative: "Though it may seem like you will never get out of university, you will eventually and then you can start the rest of your life. The world is your oyster." (2013)
Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Counselor: "Find out about licensure requirements in your state before you graduate. It is much easier to obtain licensure directly out of school than it is to wait a few years. Testing is often required, as well as professional references. Professors are excellent references because they can speak directly to your skills." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "One statement a professor of mine during graduate school has especially rang true: "Clients are not the ones who will cause a counselor to burnout but rather the people you work with and for." The high expectations to see a certain amount of clients per month to make the budget has made that quote ring true to me." (2013)
Family Counselor: "Understand how your degree can transfer to other colleges. If you have a particular career in mind, you may need a degree that you can't get without certain pre-requisites." (2013)
Marriage And Family Therapist: "Make sure you get all the important licensure requirements fulfilled as soon as possible. Taking a job right after school that doesn't require it can cause you to put it off and you might end up having a hard time if your life journey leads you to another state before you've completed licensure. In other words, it's always easier to transfer a license than to try to get one in a different state than you trained in." (2013)
Mental Health Clinician: "Try to get experience and internships working with a variety of populations. You may think you know the population with whom you want to work but you'll be surprised at what population who really enjoy." (2013)
Counselor: "Make sure your work center has a licensed counselor that can vouch for your counseling hours." (2013)
Mental Health Counselor: "The best advice I can give to someone starting out or changing careers is to develop a niche that you specialize in. I have been trained in a specific type of therapy that has opened up many doors for me, and will enable me to more easily get into private practice when I decide to do that." (2013)
Substance Abuse Counselor: "1. If you get into the substance abuse field, make sure you learn how to leave the work at work. Don't get so involved with the clients that you're bringing their emotions home with you at night." (2013)
Behavioral Heath Professional: "Tip 1- Make sure to be aware of any personal issues you may have that would effect how you treat clients. Tip 2- It would be very helpful to take some basic psychology courses during college. Tip 3- Make sure to leave any issues and frustrations experienced at work at the office. Many people will dwell too much on the stresses of the job and get burnt out quickly if they cant learn to separate work from home life." (2011)
Rehab Case Manager: "Learn how to build rapport with people because in this career you will find that they actually look forward to you coming out to see them. If you don't have good rapport they will think you are wasting their time and have no respect for you, and will most likely dodge your appointments. It is helpful to learn organization and time management skills prior to entering this type of career because you have to schedule your own appointments and keep track of paperwork. Learn self discipline because in this career you work under little supervision, so it is up to you to get all your work done. No one else is accountable but you." (2011)
Professional Counselor: "I would advise students not to pay a lot of money for a master's degree in counseling. It is more important that the graduate program has required courses necessary for getting licensed. The licensing process can take two years or more after graduating from graduate college due to the number of professional hours needed. Pay is low in a nonprofit clinical setting so understand that you will not be making a lot of money. Private practice is more profitable, but it takes about 3 years after getting your license for insurance companies to allow you to bill them." (2011)
"1. If you plan to be a therapist, do an internship where you can watch other therapists in session. This way you can see how other therapists work. 2. Understand that not all of your clients will take a liking to you right away and don't take it personally if they do not make progress as you would like them to. 3. Remember to meet the client where they are and don't place your judgments and values upon them. Therapists have to be open-minded and non-judgmental." (2010)
Rehabilitation And Mental Health Counselor/ Adjunct Professor: "1. Keep it real. Be as honest as you can. Be realistic about your abilities and skills. You need to like interaction, sharing, conversation, and being with people. This is less about you than about helping others and promoting their growth and development. 2. Read, study, and develop your knowledge and skills in a variety of areas and specialize in one you really like, while continuing to maintain the global focus. 3. Listen to feedback from family and teachers, develop and keep friends, and most importantly learn from your mentors. Develop one or a few of these to guide you." (2010)
Residential Counselor: "1. Stand your ground. Don't let your patients manipulate you. 2. Be patient, calm and understanding. 3. Treat the men and the house with respect, as you would your own." (2010)
Clinical First Responder: "1. Get your master's degree because its the only way that you will be able to practice or use your skills in the counseling field. 2. Keep up on your continuing education classes even after you graduate because the field is constantly changing. 3. Subscribe to magazines or journals in order to keep updated with the newest ways of thinking and techniques/medicines being used. 4. Surround yourself with great people and enhance your coping skills so that you don't become stressed with your work!" (2009)