TIERNEY FARRY, CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR
My fieldwork in graduate school began with a local nonprofit mental health agency. I started there with the expectation that I would learn about a specific model of counseling to work with my clients. I went in armed with the intention to use my natural skill of empathic listening coupled with some of the techniques I learned during graduate school, such as using the power of the present moment and how to build rapport with clients. I had also learned a thing or two about counseling theories from my counseling program. As a counselor-in-training, I believed there were several that would fit my personality. It took me that first year to understand what counseling looks like in practice and apply my learning with clients before I felt completely comfortable with it.
Over the last two years of working as a Licensed Associate Counselor, I have explored personal growth in my professional work, finding ways to infuse my personal style and personality into my work with clients. My experience as a counselor over the last few years has helped shape my understanding of the world around me as one of connection. I got my master’s degree in mental health counseling to heal minds, and I came to realize that for me, healing through counseling could be supplemented with other tools. This has resulted in my completion of a 200-hour yoga-teacher training. Rather than subscribing to a formula, I am now comfortable to incorporate my knowledge of counseling theories with Eastern philosophies of healing to integrate mind and body to tailor client treatment.
Another area of growth for me as a counselor has been in my expectations of professional development. As a counselor-in-training, my longterm goal was to go into private practice. My reasoning at the time was that I wanted to set my own hours and maintain a flexible work schedule in order to balance family and work. However, many private practitioners who work with couples and families work hours that may not fit with my lifestyle. I have since been re-evaluating my goals for professional development and realized that full-time private practice is not for me.
The more time I have spent as a professional counselor, the more I have come to realize that it can be challenging at times to find good, regular supervision. Having formal and consistent supervision as a novice counselor is of utmost importance. For this reason, when I have accrued enough hours and had enough clinical experience as a counselor, I am considering becoming certified as an Approved Clinical Supervisor and taking on the role of a mentor and supervisor to give back to the profession that has prepared me to be the counselor I am today.