Want to Be a Therapist? A Rewarding Career, and We Need More

How to become one, perks, and more…

I’m not sure when I decided to be a therapist…I read a book called ‘Dibs’, about a boy who had a one-on-one helper at his school, and that was definitely part of the beginning.

Then I did an internship, once I realized that my psychology degree was teaching me about the brain and not about helping people, which I found fascinating. I had definitely planned to be a psychologist, which I’m not.

Once I finished my master’s degree in 1995, I was ready to work for a while. I wanted to have babies, I was already married, and I was ready to be done with school.

I have been thinking lately that we really need more therapists. The media is encouraging people to go see a therapist, and in Texas, there are certainly a lot more than there were in Indiana.

But still not enough.

I decided to write about it, but first, I thought I’d ask some of my fellow therapists what helped them decide to go into this field.

I sent out some texts to different therapist friends about what has led them to be therapists.

One friend answered me back quickly. She told me that she was working for a place that was understaffed and she was working to balance that with taking care of her kids and her art.

Another friend, who owns her own private practice and provides solely Telehealth, talked about how she had initially planned to be a psychologist and started having children. She’s working on her PhD, but it will be in a different area from psychology.

Another friend I have talked about how she had a very lonely childhood with parents who are less than ideal. She wants to be there for kiddos the way that her therapist was there for her.

I remember another friend talking about the therapy she received as a teen, and how that led her to want to be a therapist. She talked about the positive experience she had, and wanting to provide that to someone else.

Another person I know talked about how she knew of someone with a brain injury who had made some mistakes with his behavior. Her work has led her to want to understand people, particularly those with brain injuries, and to be a person who can provide help to others.

What do you do for a living?

Sometimes I said I supervised people, sometimes I said I did home-based work, other times I just said the name of where I worked.

I learned fairly quickly that telling people that I am a therapist frequently had me listening to a story about someone in that person’s life who had a therapist, or who needed one.

At some point in the last few years, I have realized that it is important to embrace my field and what we do.

When people ask me my profession, I usually state that I am a therapist. I have been asked ‘Physical? Occupational?’

To which I answer ‘mental health’. I am working to say that I am a mental health therapist as a starting point.

You may have heard newscasters, morning show broadcasters, or even your everyday sitcoms start to integrate therapy into their stories and recommendations. We have heard from Michael Phelps, a spokesperson for TalkSpace, talking about the importance of therapy for him. For anyone who watches Ted Lasso, he is seeing a therapist for panic attacks that he is having following a death in his family.

A series on HBO last year with Nicole Kidman, named The Undoing, cast her as a therapist and in one of the early scenes she can be seen providing therapy, and in another one she is hesitantly interacting with someone.

We hear about how important it is to look for a therapist if you need someone to talk with, and ways to go about doing that.

Let’s be a Therapist!

My latest passion has been to work to get more therapists in the field.

There are currently three types of masters level therapists. There are those who have a Masters of Arts in counseling, which is what I have. To go that route, I encourage people to attend a CACREP accredited program.

The CACREP programs meet criteria to ensure that those graduating have been taught a specific number of skills. In Indiana, the accepted test is the NCMHCE, which is a vignette test. The license for masters level therapists in Indiana is LMHC.

In Texas, the accepted test is the NCC, which is a memorization test. The licensure in Texas for those who have passed the NCC test is LPC. In February, 2019, Texas began accepting the NCMHCE test and transitioning licenses from other states.

A second type of masters level degree is a Marriage and Family Therapist. The licensure for that is LMFT. Another route to go is to be a Clinical Social Worker.

All three types of degree have third party reimbursement, meaning that insurance will pay for sessions provided by a person with a license.

Benefits

There are many benefits to being a therapist. The work is fascinating, and there’s no question that you are working to make a difference in people’s lives.

Personal and professional boundaries are important, and I would encourage anyone going into the field to work on these. There is variety in the work, and we are getting more respect as a field by the day. The stigma of therapy is getting less and less, and I would imagine that the reimbursement rates of insurance companies will follow suit at some point.

Feel free to email me at tparke@terriswritings.com if you are thinking about getting into the field.

It is a 2 year master’s degree, and people of all ages can go to school and get their degree.

Come join us…all the cool kids are doing it 🙂

Blue Caboose Children’s Fund (BCCF): Providing Emotional, Concrete and Parental Support http://bluecaboose.org

A Story of a Board Member

I’m sitting here today enjoying my Mango Pomegranate Green Tea at SweetWaters Cafe in McKinney, Texas. It’s right here at the border of McKinney and Frisco, depending on what side of Custer Rd you’re on. (This is the McKinney side)

I just returned from Indiana, and as I stood in line for my tea, I surprisingly turned around to find the Mayor and his First Lady of the Crepe Myrtle Festival, who also arrange for the monthly art here at SweetWaters.

Today was a special day for me, as I’ve been here enough times to enjoy my first drink from the cafe that is a reward for my loyalty here.

As I stood in line, I met Elizabeth and Fred, who were dressed in their Mayor and First Lady gear, right out of a perfectly orchestrated play set in a quaint village. I laughed, as I have a love for all things theater, but did resist breaking out into song.

I want to give thanks to all who were able to provide support on #NTXGD (North Texas Giving Day), and also to those who were able to support Blue Caboose Children’s Fund (#BCCF) specifically.

bluecaboose.org

Continue reading “Blue Caboose Children’s Fund (BCCF): Providing Emotional, Concrete and Parental Support http://bluecaboose.org”

Coffee, Tea, Both, or Neither?

www.instagram.com/p/CPnmeXJlgpk/

Mental Health: Everyone Makes Mistakes, Anxiety and ADHD

Remember the song from Sesame Street? (you may want to ask a parent if you are under 40)

“Everyone makes mistakes oh yes, they do…..

Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too…

big people

small people

matter of fact, ALL People…”

well, you get the idea.

We all have a tendency to make mistakes. What we don’t all have the tendency to do, is to be aware of how to be tolerant of others when they make mistakes. Even more importantly, we have to learn to be tolerant of ourselves when WE make mistakes.

Maybe the song should have gone something like this:

“Please remember this when you type on your social media page

Or yell at your spouse

or your child

or….yourself”

I write a lot about leadership and how important it is to foster a trusting relationship. I write about encouraging questions and an environment of learning.

What I haven’t written as much about is how to be OK with our own errors, and to work through those anxious feelings when mistakes happen. For adults with ADHD tendencies, or diagnosed ADHD, those learned behaviors of feeling anxious about behaviors and actions can result in a whole lot of anxiety.

Ever think back on a social event and think ‘why did I say that?? I probably shouldn’t have. I wish I could go back in time and not say it’.

This rumination, or thinking about the same thing over and over again, is a huge part of attention differences. Anxiety co-occurs with ADHD with a really high frequency, and can have a real negative affect on social relationships, sleep, and our own self-talk and self-care.

I’m really fascinated by the ADHD brain.

The ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) brain is different from brains which may be more neurotypical.

ADHD isn’t really about not being able to pay attention.

It is a different wiring of the brain, which can be either over or under-stimulated.

Let’s take an example of someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

That person may be able to focus intently on a specific task at times (referred to as hyperfocusing), and struggle to give attention to something they need to focus on at others.

As a parent to a child with those behaviors, it may seem that the child focuses on what they like, or what they want to, but not on what they need to focus on, such as completing chores or schoolwork.

The parent may then experience frustration and express that to their child in a negative way, perhaps by using a loud voice.

The child may then become anxious and worried about forgetting tasks, which creates a cycle of lower success.

Here are a few things that can help a child who has an ADHD brain to have more success:

Provide structure. Have a routine of tasks that need to be completed. The child then has more predictability and may know ‘OK, after dinner I do my homework. After homework I take my bath and get ready for bed’

Another idea is to break tasks into smaller chunks instead of listing everything out at once. A child who hears ‘Take your shoes upstairs, then put these clean clothes away, then I need you to come back down to finish your homework’ may take their clothes upstairs, notice they left out their game from earlier, and begin playing it.

The caregiver may then become upset with the child for not listening, and the child may become more and more anxious as the parent gives them a list of tasks because of their fear of forgetting.

The ADHD brain fires differently, and as with all things, we are still learning about how this works.

I encourage you, as an adult reading this article who may have a brain with ADHD or attention differences, to continue to educate yourself about how your brain may work differently than someone who does not have attention differences.

I encourage you, as a parent who may be reading this who experiences frustration, to give your child structure and provide small chunks of instructions instead of lists of them. To say ‘I need you to go upstairs and do 2 things. Take your shoes up and put your clothes away.’

You have then told the child how many things to do (2), and what those two things are. The child has a better chance of remembering to complete them because they may have focused on the number of things to do, or they may have focused what their tasks are. Having listed both the number of items and the tasks help to increase their chances of completing the requested tasks.

I then encourage you to monitor your child for success. Encourage them to recognize that they did complete a task, and to know you are both seeking and expecting them to have success, and that you are seeking less frustration from both of you.

As you and they continue to make mistakes, as you and they both will, remember the song I referenced at the beginning of this article. In this time of COVID, we’re learning a little more about our own tendencies and our children’s as we spend more time interacting and learning new patterns and habits.

Everyone makes mistakes oh yes they do…..

Mornings are Fun! Starting the Day in a Happy, Productive Way

link.medium.com/Xo8IiSXOE6

Here’s an article I wrote for Medium a while ago. While I have switched to herbal tea, the rest is pretty true, even today. I’m in in a different state with different work responsibilities, but still enjoy some hot tea and predictability.

Happy reading!

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