Today begins my fourth semester in Regent University’s Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program. I just returned from residency at Regent so now the semester begins for real – papers, group projects, tons of reading, quizzes and exams, and much collaboration with cohorts. The journey has been amazing since Fall 2017. So much valuable information, incredible peers, challenging content, and tremendous amounts of self-reflection. According to my degree program print-out, I am 59% done with classes. I cannot believe it! Also exciting, I begin my one-semester practicum this coming January (working at a local mental health site) under direct supervision then I will begin two semesters (summer and fall) of internship at, most likely, a different mental health facility with less supervision. By the end of 2019, I will be eligible to take Virginia licensing exams to practice in the commonwealth and begin accumulating counseling hours in order to meet Virginia’s minimum experience requirements for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). It is still pretty far out but I am getting there and, as I have learned, it is best to take it all one day at a time.
The journey has been both highly rewarding and significantly revealing. On the one hand, I have been exposed to much opportunity and resource to help others with counseling skills and methods. I feel like a kid in a candy shop – there’s just so much! On the other, this journey necessarily requires me to spend much time in personal reflection and self-evaluation. I have had to come to grips with my own personal biases, cultural persuasions, and religious intolerances. As I dig deeper into who I believe I am, I both feel some regret and shock even as I sense a feeling and urge to heal and become better. As we are often reminded, a good counselor necessarily needs to be a good counselee.
My area of interest has primarily to do with crisis and trauma counseling for those who are marginalized – refugees, immigrants, those in the LGBT community, and recovering addicts. The pain and neglect that these individuals experience is beyond anything I have ever known or experienced. For me, when working with these individuals, it will not be a matter of judgement. Rather, it will be a matter of actively empathizing and walking along side. I can do this. I desire to do this.
More later. There’s just much going on now. I have never climbed a mountain like this but every day brings, with the challenge, much accomplishment and satisfaction unlike most anything I have ever done.