When my supervisor called me in her office and asked me to sit down, I knew what she was going to say. I had been hearing about it for several months. However, I didn’t want to believe that it could happen to me. “Alicia, you must obtain your license in order to continue working here”, she said. Even though I knew about the bad news before the meeting, I was still shocked. I did not say a word. I just grabbed my things and left. I had always discussed the signs and symptoms of depression with my clients since I had counseled children with mental health issues for over 4 years. However, talk about learning from experience; I was depressed for months or maybe a year. I felt as though my career was snatched away from me and had ended that day, November, 14, 2007.
I thought about going back to school, but I hated having to sacrifice my limited time to attend school and get a degree for something I was already doing. I felt as though the system had failed me. I never made enough money to pay back the previous student loans, and now I have to make more bills.
After going back and forth with the decision to attend school, I finally decided to attend. I chose Capella University, because I still had to work and take care of my family while pursuing my degree. Capella’s online line classes were convenient and well known. Therefore, I did some research and found out that Capella was accredited, and some of my previous coworkers had already started the program. So as a result of the above statements, I decided to pursue a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling.
In my Human Development book, Thomas L. Crandell (2009) explained Eric Erikson’s development theory. Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development was how I chose to explain my state of mine when I had gotten terminated. When Eric talked about solving conflict and crisis, I knew this was the theory that described me. At the time I was terminated, I just could not deal with the reality of what happened, and I could not trust the system. In fact, I had started to hate the system. During my depressed moments, I went back to the infancy stage, and I slowly developed to the integrity verses despair stage. I finally feel whole and at peace with how my career turned out (Crandell, 2009, pg. 41).
You may wonder how I provided counseling without being licensed. In New Jersey, at first, a master’s degree was sufficient enough for providing mental health therapy. Therefore, for the past five years, I worked in the mental and behavioral health field providing a wide range of services. I serviced adults and children with disabilities: ADD, ODD, ADHD, PDD, Autism, Bipolar, Schizophrenia and various learning disabilities etc. I had written therapeutic treatment plans and daily progress notes, and I did individual and group therapy, assessments, bio-psychosocial, and reauthorization of service letters. I also worked as an Intensive Care Manager for adults and children, and I work as a master’s level clinician for families too.
Furthermore, once the state board found out that clinicians were providing in-home therapy without being licensed, they were required to stop practicing immediately. Some clinicians were able to take the license exam at that time, because they already had the necessary course requirements completed. However, in order for me to become licensed, I needed to start school again, because I had a degree in Organizational Management and Leadership.
After trying to get a job using my Organizational Management and Leadership Master of Science degree and not being successful, I decided to change my professional goals. On that day, I had begun to develop new professional goals. My new professional goals were to graduate from Capella with my Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Therefore, after graduating from Capella, my mission is to provide psychiatric services to children and their families who are battling with mental health illnesses and behavioral issues that are destroying lives. I want to deliver quality and integrity while providing services to my families. Now I am ready to bring about a change in the community. I want to help broken and dysfunctional families to come together as one, and I try to make a difference in the world. My specialization will be to help children with behavioral and mental health illnesses.
I want to help children reach their highest potential by teaching them new skills, and as a result, they can teach these learned skills to their children. I also want to apply my knowledge in ways that bring about a greater good to make a difference and have a positive impact on society. I want to become confident in my education and the services I provide to clients. I want to be an asset to the Behavioral and Mental Health field helping children and families get through their past traumatic experience and to give hope back to the families. I want to improve my skills and get the needed foundation for a great practice in the Behavioral and Mental Health field.
My future goals are to start a program that inspires, encourages and motivates young children facing obesity to make healthier choices, raise their self esteem, improve social skills and exercise daily. Attending Capella University helps this process by helping me obtain and improve the skills needed for clinical counseling. I want this program to become successful in order to expand throughout the state of New Jersey.
These goals intersect with my academic interests and selected field of study. First, it intersects with my choice of a licensure program in mental counseling, because professionally, clinicians must be licensed in order to provide counseling. The state of New Jersey enforces the law where workers must be licensed to practice clinical counseling if employed by a for-profit organization. The State will soon make this law applicable to the non-profit organization as well. Also, licensed clinicians can make more money in their career. Having a license will assist me with bringing in more money. With all of my student loans and credit card debt, I have to make more money in order to pay the loans off and save for retirement. Also, with a license, one could better market themselves in the workforce. When I start the after school program, I will have group and individual therapy sessions which will require me to become a licensed clinician as well. Therefore, Capella’s program is perfect for me.
Once I graduate from Capella University, I would then have the skills to accomplish my goals. I would have Capella skills and my past work experience. I worked for organization that provided continual educational training where I have received many of CEU credits: crisis management, trauma counseling, suicide prevention, CPR, sexual abuse awareness and fire safety which would help me provide child-centered, family-focused, and strength based approach psychotherapy to my clients.
Throughout my career, I changed jobs often but the one thing that had not changed was “counseling”. Some type of counseling seemed to always be in my job description. I had worked as a life skilled instructor who taught adults, living with developmental issues, how to do daily activities, so they can live independently. Then, I worked as a case manager for adults with severe mental health illnesses, and I later worked in schools as a consultation and education specialist where I counseled students and provided short term case management services. I also coordinated meetings and served as a liaison for parents and school staff. Later, I worked as a clinician for Adults and provided group and individual therapy. Last, I provided therapy for children with mental and/or behavioral health issues.
Personally, I am a hard worker and self motivated. I work well people and have great interpersonal skills, and I deal with people with different personalities every day. I am known to have leadership skills and known to be a good team player.
Attending Capella University is a decision for me, because Capella’s program allows me to work while I care for my family. For example, Capella’s online program is very convenient, since I can go places and do my work assignments on the computer wherever I go. Therefore, this advance degree experience will encourage me and teach necessary skills to help me put together the missing pieces so that I can change my life and bring about a social change for communities I plan to help.
Crandell, Thomas L., 2009 Human Development 9TH edition, Mcgraw-Hill Publishing Company, pg.41