Young Therapists: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting that First Job

Diverting from my usual audience, I want to speak to my fellow blooming therapists out there.

Deciding to become a therapist means deciding to be selfless more hours out of the day than not. This is a daunting task and takes a special kind of person to take it on. So kudos to you for choosing to walk down that career path!

However passionate you are about this path, I would like to send the reminder that being a therapist is a lot more than just being an empathetic person to those that choose to sit in front of you…it’s a full blown job. A job that is both physically and mentally draining. Preparing yourself for what you are about to take on and preparing yourself for where this career path will take you in the future is important!

Making an informed decision about how being a therapist will affect your overall life will help you grow into your career with ease. That is why I want to pose to you 5 questions to ask yourself before accepting that first job…

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What are you doing for self-care?

As much as we preach “self-care is important!”, are you taking care of yourself? Can you think of one thing you do on a regular basis that is purely for yourself? If you can’t think of something, you better assign yourself some self-care ASAP. We tell our clients all the time that self-care is important, but we often forget that as “helpers” we are often the ones that need some self-care the most. Knowing your hobbies, happy place, or support systems can be life saving when working in this field. Also, think about how you will incorporate this self care when you begin your career. Establishing these self care activities into your routine NOW, will make it much easier when things start to get even more hectic.

What are your priorities?

Are you single, and hoping to still have time for finding love? Or do you have a  family where being present for all the big moments is important? Or do you really love taking trips and participating in events and get togethers with friends? No matter what your priorities are, make sure to take these into account BEFORE signing on to a new job or side project. Knowing what comes first on your priority list enables you to choose what will be a good fit for you. Also, take into account that these priorities may shift. Working two jobs and 60 hour weeks may seem fine when you are pre-licensed, but once you become licensed you may want to reduce some of these hours to fit in other more important activities.

What do you want your schedule to look like?

There is no typical therapist schedule, so don’t try to match what you see someone else doing. In grad school you may have been handed a class schedule that you had to work around, but it may have seemed easy to just fill in the space before or after classes each week. After graduation however, you have to figure out your entire 24 hours each day to really maximize your time. If you are considering agency work vs. private practice, choose wisely. You may expect a typical 9-5pm, but crisis happens at all times of the day, so therapy jobs often mean working nights and weekends. Something they don’t tell you in grad school.

Look at your schedule and decide what line of work fits into your lifestyle. Outpatient programs offer the most typical schedule, as they are mostly office-based (M-F, 9am-5pm). School-based jobs often give more flexibility due to school year schedules (expect working anywhere between 7am and 3pm, M-F, with all the typical school breaks). A community-based job will often involve more evening hours (think hours between 9am and 7pm, M-Sat., with minimal holidays). Though some add the flexibility of working a 4×10 (4 days a week, 10 hours a day). Private practice work can seem to be the most flexible, but at times it can be the most restricting, as you are catering to when your clients will most likely be available (think M-Th.+Sat., 4pm-9pm or 9am-12pm). With most clients working a typical 9-5, you’re often offering the off hours. Each job you apply for will come with a different set of requirements, so do not be afraid to ask what a normal work day/week looks like for their therapists.

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How do you set boundaries?

You may have been taught about legal & ethical boundaries, but personal boundaries can be just as important to establish in your career. Being a pre-licensed therapist, you often forget just how much you have to offer, which can be detrimental to your sanity. Pre-licensed therapists are often taken advantage of in the work place due to our natural desire to help. Be firm with your boundaries when it comes to working extra hours, taking home work, carrying your client’s baggage, and all the other ways in which you may be asked to go above & beyond your job description. Decide what will be hurtful to your well-being and what will be helpful to your goals. If it feels like too much, it most likely is WAY too much!

What are your career goals?

This is a major question, and arguably the most important. Some people go into the mental health field because they love the one-on-one contact with people, and doing anything other than direct therapy doesn’t interest them. Some people want to be the director of an entire non-profit because they want to see agencies run differently. Some people really want the ability to work for themselves, part-time, and have more time for their family. While others really love the educating aspect of therapy, and see themselves eventually teaching. And still others may have completely different goals tied into their mental health related degree. Figuring this goal out now however, allows you to line up and prioritize what is most important to you.

Think about where you see yourself in 10 years…what are you doing? Where do you live? How hard are you working? These questions will allow you to seek out a position that will help you reach your end goal. Finding a position that gives you room for growth and professional trainings can be game changing when you finally become licensed. Additional items on a resume or just additional knowledge in your head, can make all the difference in that professional transition. Start by making a vision board or writing a letter to your future self, then hold yourself accountable to accomplish the dreams you have.

It will all be worth it in the end.

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“Situationships”: 5 Ways to have Healthy Relationships in College

With the so called “cuffing season” upon us, what are your #RelationshipGoals for the season? Are you looking for something physical and nothing more? Are you looking for someone to bring home to family events, so you stop getting asked why you’re single? Or are you looking for someone to call “bae” through Valentine’s Day, but say “bye” by summer?

Whatever you are looking for, there are healthy and not so healthy ways of interacting with potential partners. Let’s go over some of those crucial skills with 5 ways to have healthy relationships in college…

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Be Real with Yourself

The first step to any relationship is being real with yourself. What do you really want to get out of this interaction? Why are you looking for what you’re looking for? Be real…

Is it because your friends are saying you need to get out there? Is it because your hormones are raging? Is it because you are stressed and see a relationship as a way of seeking support? Is it because you can’t stand being single? What about being single do you hate so much? Is it society’s rules and expectations about partnering up? There are about a dozen more questions I could ask, but you get the idea. Ask yourself the hard questions, and recognize your intentions with seeking a new partner.

Be Open & Honest about What You Want

Once you look at yourself and decide why you are getting suited up for “cuffing season”, the next step is deciding what you actually want. No judgment, some people don’t want to be in a serious, committed relationship. That’s okay. As long as you KNOW that for sure, and don’t decide 3 months into a “situationship” that you want something more. Sorry to inform you, but you will be disappointed.

If you know WHY you want a certain type of relationship, this may be helpful information to share with a potential partner, so as they do not expect you to change your mind down the road. And on the other side of things…when someone tells you exactly what they want do not expect anything more or less of EXACTLY what they said! Do not project your dreams and desires onto a person that does not hold the same values.

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Set Up Boundaries

When deciding what type of relationship you want with whomever, make sure there are boundaries that you are both aware of before getting involved. If you want something casual, but don’t want to share this casual relationship with anyone else that is something to express. If you want to be free to explore all your options, that should be clear as well. It only makes things awkward when you go out and see your “situationship” having a situation with someone else. So be upfront, and don’t get involved with someone who doesn’t match your idea of a successful relationship.

Be Respectful of Others’ Mind, Body, and Soul

When you involve yourself with somebody else, you are involving yourself with ALL PARTS of that body. Whether you want something physical, emotional, or spiritual, you will get all 3 in any relationship. Everyone has their baggage and although they may not intend to unload it on you, it can be laid out on the table verbally and/or non-verbally. Be respectful of what someone is bringing to the table and be sure to discuss whether you are willing to take it all or none. There is no in between.

Reminder as well…being a part of someone’s body means being a part of EVERY body they have come in contact with…if you get my drift. This is a risk that you must come to terms with before choosing to expose yourself figuratively and literally. Wrap it up!

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Lesson of the day is…communicate! If you listen to your own needs, and communicate those desires to the person you choose to have relations with, you will have a much easier time navigating your relationships. Practicing your communication skills (negotiating boundaries, expressing likes & dislikes, asking questions, etc.) will help you in all aspects of your life. College is a time to gain knowledge. Use this time to learn about yourself and you won’t regret that degree!

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P.S. If you are interested in individual therapy during those college years, request an appointment at a reduced fee, here!

 

Suite303 Podcast: Episode 6: Mental Health & The Stigma of Therapy feat. Lee from SimpLee Therapy

I had the pleasure recently to collaborate with not just someone I look up to, but one of the people that inspire me daily, Mr. Albert Phang, also known as my big brother. His podcast, Live from Suite303, is THE place for entertainment, culture, and generally uplifting the community known as The Inland Empire. I was privileged enough to get to sit down on the show and discuss how mental health has become such a big conversation in every community, but also how the stigma around therapy is being shattered by new generations in the black community.

Take a listen at Suite303 on SoundCloud or

Watch the podcast on YouTube at

Live from Suite 303 – Episode 6

Are You Having a “Quarter Life Crisis”?

Your mid-twenties. You expected to be done with school, working in a great career, be engaged (maybe even married), and possibly buying your first home. In reality, you are probably in grad school or contemplating going back because you barely get paid a living wage at your job and your parents keep asking when you are going to find a spouse and move out. What a f**king surprise…

This is not how you imagined adulthood. Good news is, you aren’t the only one feeling this way. Bad news is, there are A LOT of twenty-something year olds feeling this way.

So what do you do about your situation? Go to therapy. Why? Let me tell you the top 5 reasons to attend therapy in your twenties…

 

  1. To Find Supportfriends

    Your support system changes a lot in your twenties. This is the time when your friend group goes through a major overhaul (because let’s be honest, you’re lucky if 2 of your friends from high school are actually still your friends). Your parents slowly start seeing you less like a child and more like a fellow adult. And you actually have to have professional relationships at work (instead of goofing off during your shift at American Eagle). Knowing who to go to when you are having an off day becomes more difficult to decipher. Therapy can help you work through the relationships in your life to discover which are challenging you to be better and which are holding you down. While figuring out who in your life is supportive of your growth, you establish a relationship with your therapist, who’s sole job is to support you on your journey to your goal.

     

  2. To Reduce Your Anxieties

    Twenty year olds are full of anxiety for all sorts of reasons. Anxiety about finishing school. Anxiety about paying for school. Anxiety about finding a job. Anxiety about finding a mate. Anxiety about how to cook dinner or do your own laundry. Literally everything is new and harder than you thought it would be. A good therapist will be able to meet these anxieties with tools you can use to cope with and reduce these anxious feelings. Reducing the anxiety around these issues is the first step to being able to make sound decisions about how you want to approach each circumstance.

  3. To Build Your Self Confidencegirl guitar

    Millennials have taken a lot of blows to their self esteem. Whether it is an article saying “how lazy this generation is” or parents reminding you how much they had accomplished at your age or just social media filling your timeline with perfect looking people and their perfect looking lives (Note: none of those people are actually perfect). Being twenty-something in today’s age sometimes makes you feel like sh*t. Going to a therapist should make you feel the opposite of that. Therapy hands you an open, non-judgmental person to guide you to the realization about all you have to offer. Therapy has helped many people come to realizations about what self worth looks like and how they can find the confidence to go after their personal goals. Which brings me to reason 4 to attend therapy in your twenties…

  4. To Challenge Society’s Norms

    A lot of the issues that present themselves in this time of your life have to do with the influence of society. Society says what you should be doing, how you should be doing it, and gives no explanation for why. Therapy can be a place where you can deconstruct these societal norms, and re-establish for yourself what “normal” is. Questions are the core of therapy, and questioning what society tells you is right can be an incredible jumping off point for major progress in therapy.

  5. To Discover Your Unique Pathmap

     

    Last, but not least, your twenties are all about discovering what works for you. Once you find the support, reduce the anxiety, build the confidence, and challenge society, you are ready to make decisions about how you want to live your life and how you are going to accomplish your goals. Figuring these things out with a therapist in tow helps keep you on track and holds you accountable to using the skills you’ve learned along the way.

Therapy has everything to do with growth and this is the time of your life that you arguably doing the most growth. Not only are you growing intellectually, but also socially and spiritually. Making time for therapy means making time to slow down in this hectic world and reflect on who you are and who you want to be. How could you benefit from therapy?

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