Masters in counseling? pros cons? job ideas?

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AUTIGER12 in Birmingham, Alabama

16 months ago

Hello everyone,

I graduated from college last spring with a BA in Psychology. I have been looking for a jobfor almost a year. I have applied for a variety of jobs, i have skills in marketing, customer service, child care, just a variety. I didn't really set any kind of career specific plans with my degree and now major frustration has set in.

Due to being extremely unhappy at my full time day care job (unhappy is putting it nicely, i was completely misreable, stayed sick the entire time) I decided to begin to puruse a masters in clinical and mental health counseling. In all honesty I am unsure if this is for me. I have always wanted to be a counselor but I do not want to work as a case manager. I have been told by my professors that you can in fact make it as a counselor but you have to make your own way. I am really nervous and unsure about what I am doing. So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or experience or ideas about what I can do? Pros, cons etc?

Thanks everyone

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georgewduke in Upper Marlboro, Maryland

16 months ago

I started a program in mental health counseling last fall, but only after spending months researching programs and career options. I'm already working full-time, but am looking to open a small private practice when I graduate so our goals might be a little different. I would suggest that you do a couple of things: (1) contact some LPCs in your area and ask them if they wouldn't mind doing an informational interview (you can find local LPCs using an online database like the one Psychology Today maintains)- ask them about their experiences in the field and for any advice they can offer you. This should give you a good idea about job prospects in your area, things you can do once you graduate, and it helps you to start building your professional network; and (2) join some professional associations and go to conferences. If your funds are limited, join a state-wide association, like the state level branch of the ACA or the AMCHA. This will give you a chance to meet more LPCs, ask more questions, and get a better feel for what your post-graduation options might be. If you find counseling is not for you, then by all means quit while you're ahead and take some time to research other options for a career.

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georgewduke in Upper Marlboro, Maryland

16 months ago

One last thing- I was a lawyer early on in my professional career and I have noticed that the counseling profession seems to operate in a similar fashion. Networking is the number one key to success- it's how you find a job and how you generate referrals for business if you're on your own. Your professional reputation means a lot- no one is going to recommend you for anything if they think poorly of you. And if you don't have any hustle, ambition, or drive, you're either going to be stuck making a paltry salary in a really stressful working environment, or you're going to throw in the towel and look for something else to do. It may be a passion for helping people that attracts you to counseling as a career choice, but the reality of student loan debt, low wages, difficult clients, and bosses who are indifferent to your suffering, can make anyone do a 180 career-wise. No matter what career option you choose, keep an open-mind, be flexible, and make compromises that are going to advance your career and help you to earn a decent living.

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