When does your life as a professional start? Is it when you start graduate school? When you finish graduate school? When you complete all of your hours? When you are done with licensing exam? When you officially get licensed? When you start a private practice? When your private practice is full and profitable?
In July of 2005 I failed a licensing exam by 1 point, and it changed my life forever. To make a long story short, I failed the exam, started an online community to get my own needs met, and then received a letter 3 months later saying whoops- you passed! Since 2005, I’ve been creating community for pre-licensed therapists around the world through a free online study group, a free newsletter, and a exhaustive blog at http://mftguide.com
I’ve learned a lot over these last years, the biggest lesson being that the biggest of our journey to professional practice happens internally. As much as we teach clients to that mindset matters, we often look to external hoops and governing bodies to define our own value.
When do you become a professional therapist?
The truth is, your journey and life as a professional starts from the day you set the intention to become a professional therapist. Pre-licensed therapists have many choices along the path to licensure. There are many choices that seem silly, simple, or inconsequential along the path that can truly make the difference between an easy transition into paid work, or private practice- or really struggling to make a living doing the work that you love.
The first important piece on the path to licensure is to start to see yourself as a professional starting right now, today. If you were a professional, what would you be doing different? What events might you attend? Who would you reach out to? What book would you write? Pre-licensed therapists that treat their profession seriously during grad school find that they get multiple job opportunities while students who focus on just finishing their degree often struggle upon graduation.
Share below what you are doing today, as a pre-licensed professional to help your community, build your reputation, and love your craft.