“Finding meaning in our lives is up to us. We have choices and paths in front us that encompass within them both opportunity and limitations. Those limitations and opportunities extend outward from the choices we make. So choose wisely.” -Tyra Butler, LMFT, Early Career Clinician Community
At the risk of sounding a little preachy, I’m venturing out with my virtual yet kind blowhorn to let you know no matter where you’re at in your licensure journey, you can create a path for yourself that fulfills your innate desire to find more meaning in your life while making a living. You don’t necessarily have to take whatever job is available. There are ways to carve out a clinicial career that isn’t about working 30, 40 hours a week.
Reasons We Get Into This Field
We all have our personal reasons for becoming therapists or counselors. And it’s so important to figure that out and hold onto it as you move forward. Some reasons may include the general sense of helping others, contributing to our community, or–taking it deeper–figuring out why we are the way we are and how we can overcome certain issues. This can also include a quest for more meaning and fulfillment in your life. Maybe you want to spend your working life helping others in emotionally and psychologically healing ways–to make the world a better place. Or prevent more trauma or tragedies from happening, both within nuclear families and broader within our communities.
Most of us don’t get into this field to get rich quick or climb the proverbial corporate career ladder. True, some of us are more geared for the clinical or administration side, so it’s wise to find a fit based on your strengths.
An Intrinsic Reason
And though we have the practical realities of needing to make a living, there’s usually an intrinsic motivating factor that set us in motion on this educational and career path. When something’s intrinsic, there’s some significance or meaning derived from the act of doing something. That thing itself brings rewards such as grounding, joy, human connectedness, healing or growth.
Because there are thousands of ways to make a living, we all have choices about how we’re going to do that. And in becoming a therapist or counselor, there are many paths you can go down. More than likely, you didn’t want to be doing whatever work came your way or happened to be available. And if you thought you’d just have to find anything counseling-related, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. You probably wanted to do something you thought you’d love and would feel good. And you can.
The Need to Find What You Love
So within this career, it’s imperative to find what provides both personal meaning and growth while paying the bills and creating a nice lifestyle. Without this, your personal fulfillment will wax and wane, which puts you at risk for burning out and hating this line work for one reason or another. I’m not trying to be depressing or fear-based. Through my writing and the services I offer, I’m trying to prevent you from being one of those it happens to.
Have you thought about what personally motivates you to be in this field?
For me, it was helping people out in meaningful ways that would allow them to grow and heal from life’s dificult experiences. Having experienced personal growth in my own life through therapy, I loved what it could do and since it occurred in a private practice setting, that’s what I inevitably envisioned I’d do. Plus, since high school I had a keen interest in human psychology and was always to the go-to person for dilemmas and provide a compassionate, listening ear. That was coupled with an unconscious or hidden desire–something I wasn’t aware of early on–to understand myself and my life more, and take a path that would foster more growth.
Can anyone relate to that, or think there may be a smidgeon of that within you?
Have you ever stopped to think along your journey during pre-licensure and early in your career, “What am I meant to be doing with this education and career? What’s all this about anyhow?”
You Have Seeds of Greatness Within You
With all the requirements and hoops we jump through to get a degree and earn hours, it’s easy to lose sight of the meaning of it all. We look concretely at what our needs are: making money, earning hours, fulfilling supervision requirements, etc., etc. And while all that is important of course, what about our overarching need–that supercedes all of that–to find what we love and are meant for?
I wholeheartedly believe there is a seed within each of us that is destined for more than what lies before us. Both within our personal growth and professional path. I’m getting a little philosophical here, and at the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker, I want to express how vital it is to take time to reflect on what you feel you’re meant to do in this line of work.
The reason is it’s so easy to get into something, whether it’s an education, job or career, without really thinking through WHY we are doing that thing. And miss out on something else that may have been REALLY great. With choices to make along the way, we need an anchor that reminds us of what’s fueling that decision and effort. When we don’t feel there’s a purpose, we are susceptible to go in a direction “just because” and end up unfulfilled, lost or overworked/burned out. You risk not feeling grounded as you go forward in life which can lead to feelings of insecurity or perhaps giving up altogether.
Here’s 3 simple AND powerful tips to help you with this and recap what I’ve shared:
- Think about why you wanted this education and career.
- Think about what you envisioned–what you would like and think would be the most enjoyable?
- Consider what kinds of jobs and positions fit with that or could lead to making it happen?
As we find our calling and delve more into it, we become more fully who we are. We find aspects of ourselves while doing this work and in so doing tap more into our potential and the layers within us.
Tyra Butler is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Founder of the Early Career Clinician Community so be sure to sign up for her email list and grab your free copy of the “Pre-Licensed Guide to Success: How to Ensure You Get Licensed,” where she gives some of her best tips to succeed (Join the Facebook group here). She has been in private practice for nine years, with 14 years in mental health and business. She works with pre-, provisionally-licensed and early career therapists to help them find paid work, start and grow their practices and make important decisions and career moves in community mental health. She offers coaching and consultation, and as a professional writer she helps therapists create and write web site and marketing content.
If you’re interested in chatting with me about your personal situation, please send me a message here and I will get you on the schedule over the next couple weeks. Please note, only evening appointments (Pacific time) are open at this time.