It’s 2012, and I am in a large office building at a software company in Santa Monica after several rounds of interviews. I scan the faces to assess if the PowerPoint was well received. After questioning references, the VP says they will put together a job offer package.
Sitting in my car afterwards, thoughts and emotions are out of sync. “This is a fantastic opportunity . . . My last interview was with a Director relocating to the office in France. I could live in Paris again! Wasn’t this my goal with an International Business degree? Shouldn’t I be elated and fulfilled?”
With therapy and soul-searching, I discover that alignment with values and making a personal impact are missing as an IT Consultant. The next career step is applying to graduate programs in psychology. As a Myers-Briggs INFP, creating unity is the color of my parachute. Indeed, my first college course was Intro to Psychology at Stanford University at a summer term before senior year in high school. Being a therapist is an opportunity to integrate mind, body, and soul to empower others. What a privilege to heal the human spirit!
As an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, I have been fortunate for the opportunity to serve as LA-CAMFT’s Chair of Registration since February 2017. The generosity of established clinicians who reach out, encourage participation and advocate for pre-licensed members fosters a culture of trust. This is a safe space to be involved! Celebrating the accomplishment of newly licensed therapists is inspiring, and they are role models. I acknowledge the pre-licensed members who share their successes and struggles authentically. With all the uncertainties during a career transition, being part of this community provides connection and momentum.
Since graduating from Antioch University in 2015, my enthusiastic idealism is constantly challenged by reality. I under-estimated the resources required for licensure. As a career-changer with financial obligations, grit and creative economic finesse are insufficient. Without a paying internship, it’s time for some tough choices!
As therapists, we expect clients to tolerate discomfort and grow. Likewise, there are areas to expand my comfort zone. Defining a mission statement, updating LinkedIn and launching a web site would convey serious intention and skills. As a professional, I am called to a higher level of integrity. I often complain about pre-licensed circumstances without taking action. Bemoaning the lack of supervisors and paying internships does not encourage a meaningful discourse. Requesting meetings with respected professionals, being curious and asking questions opens doors. There are so many opportunities to reach out!
I am clear that securing my own oxygen mask first allows me to be a contribution to others. With a commitment to health and relationships, I look forward to continuing the journey of discovery.
Update: After submitting this article, I accepted a full-time salaried position at a treatment center from a referral at a networking meeting. After training, I begin seeing clients the second week in February.
Lauren Hooten, M.A. is a graduate of Antioch University and a Registered Associate MFT. She is LA-CAMFT’s Chair of Registration and is a therapist at the Matrix Institute on Addictions in Woodland Hills. Lauren can be reached at 512. 940.0789 or LaurenHootenMFT@gmail.com.