LPC in Transition: Working Through the Rough Patch
In my role as a clinical supervisor, I supervise counselors who have recently graduated from their graduate programs and are on the road to becoming licensed professional counselors (LPC). Many of them feel as though they’re in limbo because they have to be supervised for two years before they can get licensed and obtain jobs for which they are qualified – jobs that are usually more desirable. They apply for agency jobs that may not be ideal and are notoriously stressful. The familiarity of graduate school and close friendships they developed with classmates over the past two or three years gives way to the unfamiliarity of a 40-hour a week job in an agency with people who they have yet to develop work relationships. Given that new counselors are not very confident about their skills and feel like they’re in a weird transition period, I help them deal with the uncomfortableness of their situations by using a variety of strategies. If you are one of these counselors who is on the path to LPC in Tennessee, then here are four simple things you can do that might help you get through your “rough patch.”
First, use your graduate school experience as a reference point. Think about it. Not everybody is crazy enough to apply to a master’s-degree program that is 60 hours in length! The typical master’s degree program is 30 hours. It says a lot about you that you completed the program. It takes a lot of persistence and dedication to do so and there were likely many challenges – perhaps financially, personally and other ways – that you had to overcome along the way. If you can get through that then there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to get through this rough patch!
Secondly, rely on social support. Social support plays a very important role in getting through the rough patches. So, who is it that you rely on to help you when you’re feeling down or discouraged and need a “boost?” Maybe it’s a spouse or significant other. Perhaps it’s a family member or friend. Colleagues can be really helpful too. My suggestion is to identify as many people as possible that you can talk to about your feelings and to garner their support. Let them know what you’re going through and the challenges involved in transitioning from graduate school to young professional. Social media could figure into the equation too. There are Facebook groups that have been created for newly graduated counseling students that you can join to obtain social support (e.g., New Counselors & Therapists Group: https://bit.ly/2DM4SRh). Nobody should feel alone and the more you do what you’ve been trained to do, which includes increasing social support, the easier it will be for you to get through this rough patch.
Third, make sure that you adopt a proper perspective regarding your situation. Oftentimes, young counselors are eager to get their license and to “get on with their lives,” but this only serves to increase their restlessness and anxiety about not being at the point that they’d like to be. As such, using a reframing technique – something that you likely learned in a Theories of Counseling course – is something that you could apply to your own situation. For example, perhaps telling yourself that this transition period is a really good opportunity to learn as much as you can about yourself and the counseling process before you launch out on your own is one way to frame it. Also, telling yourself that you may never have the opportunity to receive supervision – especially high-quality supervision – again is another way to put a positive spin on the situation. Getting into the right frame of mind can only help you get through the rough patch.
Finally, the two-year time-period between the end of graduate school and when you complete your supervised hours for supervision is a good time to prepare for your future role in whatever agency or private practice setting in which you plan on working in the future. For example, if you are planning on specializing in play therapy in the future then this would be a good time for you to learn as much as possible about that area of counseling. Counselors find this to be a good source of motivation especially if they know that having a unique or desirable skill set will make them more marketable in the future. Your clinical supervisor may be able to help you grow and develop in this regard.
Although you will likely feel restless, awkward and in limbo after you graduate from your counseling program rest assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Locating a top-quality LPC supervisor in Tennessee who is willing and eager to walk that journey with you is key! : )
Christopher J. Quarto, Ph.D., ACS, PLLC, Licensed psychologist
LPC supervisor/Clinical Supervision