“I’m just a student.” I heard this hundreds of times at the ACA conference. I get it. You are probably told that a lot in school. But that quick little statement holds power and it can hold you back. “Just” minimizes you and opens the door for a few other commonly held beliefs about being in graduate school.
I don’t know anything
You can’t know everything and you never will. That’s what makes our field amazing. You will continue to grow and learn with experience. Yet, here you sit in school, your nose in books, observing, practicing, and learning. You made it into a program somehow and even at this stage in the process you are developing skills. You have a passion and a curiosity that is allowing you to build an expertise in relationships, in the human mind and being.
What would happen if you gave yourself a little bit more credit? Maybe you would start to own your worth.
It’s not an option for me
Your goal is to help people, but having a private practice isn’t priority right now. However, there are things you are doing now that will impact that dream. One big issue other therapists share with us is they were told in grad school that private practice wasn’t viable. Eek! That truly breaks my heart! To have your dreams shot down so early? That doesn’t make sense to me.
There are many private practice owners who are successful and love their work. We have a ton of them in our bootcamps. Find someone that is making it happen. Ask for a mentorship. Even if it is just by email or an occasional get together, you want amazing role models to encourage you in your dreams. Mentorship and building connections now with other successful therapists will positively impact the future of your career and development as a clinician. The time is now to get support and encouragement, not later.
I have to wait
There is also the feeling of limitation. You study, go to practicums and then what. You wait, for tests, exams, and earning hours. There are things you can actively do so that when you are ready to launch a practice, it will make life easier.
You can have a simple, basic website where you can blog about mental health issues, relationships, happy and healthy living, not from the perspective of a licensed clinician but from the perspective of a person who is immersed in learning about all things related to counseling. This will establish your name out on the search engines and within your community. Imagine having a web presence before you start a private practice. Amazing, right?! You will be years ahead if you start something now.
Let’s start over.
Begin with “I am a graduate student and I am passionate about….” Start to build your passion now and take stock in how far you have come. There is a lot you have to offer the world and there is no point in hiding that light. We want to see you shine now!
Are you in grad school? Tell us what you are doing to build your expertise!
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