The Struggle Is Real!!
Hi everyone and thanks for checking out The Heart to Heal, Inc. Make sure you check out our IG (@the.heart.to.heal) for The Heart to Heal introduction video by me. That is a brief overview about what to expect from The Heart to Heal and how it got started. I will also be using this platform to share about my own career working in mental health.....the good, the bad and the ugly.
Soooo where to start?? Let me start my saying I love the work I do. I don't always like it (mostly the other stuff that comes with it, documentation, treatment planning, agency BS). I really can't imagine doing anything else. I decided I wanted to be a counselor back in high school (mostly because I didn't want to take the science classes to become a nurse) and I am blessed to say that I have been working in the field since I graduated from under grad (WE ARE.......Penn State!!!) back in 2010.
Now just because I knew what I wanted to do did not mean the road was easy. I have worked for some great organizations, with some great people but the work I (we....mental health professionals) do is hard. When I was in undergrad I knew that going to grad school was a must, that's just the nature of the field and honestly where the struggle started. I began my grad school journey in 2011. At the time I was working full time as a Probation Officer for the city (Philadelphia), working part-time as a Behavioral Health Tech at one of the psych hospitals and I was going to school part-time at LaSalle. When I tell you I didn't have a life for 3 years, it was worth, I guess, but I swear it didn't have to be that hard.
What I remember the most about the experience was when it was time to apply for my internship. Since I was doing the Professional-Clinical Counseling track, I had to do a practicum and an internship, a total of 4 semesters. So like I said, I was working full-time, part-time and going to school. I remember meeting with the internship coordinator and sharing my concerns about trying to find a site that accommodated my needs and the response I got was: quit my job and take out loans for my expenses for the next year. Now at the time I had my own apartment, car and related expenses. That was not an option and I felt like my coordinator was not sympathetic or considerate of the working student (a whole nother story) and not everyone had the luxury of not working. So for weeks I cried everyday while applying to internships, trying to figure out how I was going to do it all. I was fortunate to find a site downtown (a 15ish min walk from my job) that had evening and weekend hours. Honestly by that point I just wanted to get it done and my site and supervisor was super flexible (there was other things going on that I may talk about another day).
Anyway, I eventually finished. One thing I regret is not going to my graduation. I was so over school and La Salle by time graduation came around that I skipped it. Looking back I definitely should have went because I worked my ass off, I earned my degree and deserved to be recognized and to celebrate but whatever. Plus I finished school in December 2014 but wouldn't have had a ceremony until May 2015. I was able to come full circle and get a counseling job at CORA Services, the first agency I worked at out of undergrad. I stayed there for a year before getting my "dream" job with the state. Now I say my "dream"job because I went to grad school with the hopes of landing the job I have now when I got my Master's.
I have been at my current job since September 2016 and it is everything and nothing that I expected it to be. After being in my current position for almost 4 year providing direct mental health services (individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, psychological testing) with a VERY, VERY, VERY, challenging population, I realize that I don't really want to counsel full-time. I am lucky to be able to do other things within my agency that bring me joy and keep me interested in my job. For one, I am an adjunct instructors for my agency's Crisis Intervention Team Training programming. This gives me the opportunity to teach (which I didn't think I would like) and to support other people from different departments, skill levels, etc to work with our most difficult people. I am also unofficially a member of our Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM). CISM provides support for staff and "residents"during any extraordinary occurrence at the institution. So I have been able to provide support to my peers following the tragic death of one of our co-workers. It was thought that incident that I realized how much I enjoyed helping other professionals.
And that is basically how The Heart to Heal came about. Through my journey to because a Licensed Professional Counselor I never really felt supported (in a professional sense). I have a few close friends and associates that are in the field that I was able to turn to for support and to vent but overall I felt like something was missing. Yes supervision is an important part of doing this work, but I always felt like the peer support was lacking. I created The Heart to Heal to be what I needed when I first started out in the field, and honestly what I still need now. The blog will be a window into the secret life of a therapist. I hope you enjoy and are able to learn more about me, mental health and yourself as well.
I feel like mental health professionals have an innate "heart to heal"but i also challenge everyone to have the "heart to heal" themselves. (See what I did there?? lol)
Until next time.......Be Well!