Another piece of GradGirl was interviewing young professional women in the social sciences. Here is our very first interview with Christina Thibodeaux.
How long have you been at your current position? Almost 2 years ago a colleague/friend of mine began an online distance counseling business, High Resolution Counseling, due to a growing need and limited service of the kind in our area. Via HIPAA compliant online technology (think, confidential video conferencing) my clients and I are able to meet across distances to meet their therapeutic needs. I found it an ideal solution for clients who go off to college or move out of the area. They often expressed to me that they did not want to have to find a new therapist. I also have been working as a Licensed Professional Counselor at Healthy U for around 6 months after a cross-country move. It is a private practice that took me on as an additional counselor.
What does a typical day look like for you? I am an independent contractor with my current positions which allows me to make and set my own hours. Some days I see 4-5 clients while others I may see 10. I try for a weekly goal of 30 clients. It can be difficult working for the fine balance of being flexible with afternoon/evening hours while not taking too much time away from my own self-care. My role as a clinician in practice (both online and in-person) allows me to facilitate therapeutic services for individuals, couples, and families in need. It is my great honor to work with others by guiding them along the path of growth and assisting them in their search for the positive change they desire in their lives. Some of my responsibilities consist of establishing treatment plans, goal setting, and conducting therapy on a weekly basis.
What are your favorite things about your job/career field? What are your biggest challenges? My absolute favorite thing about my job is that I can be the listening and empathetic ear that everyone needs but not everyone gets. I love helping others! One of the challenges at this particular job is the evening hours. People tend to take off of school and work for doctor and dentist visits that occur sporadically. But weekly therapy is a different story. It served me poorly to have the expectation of working an 8:00-5:00 job. I noticed that despite the need most clients do not or cannot let therapy interfere with their job.
How did you find out about this position? How did you get into this field more generally? As a young girl, I loved when my friends trusted me with their secrets or problems. I had such a desire to be supportive of them. This plays out in therapy as well, it is such a natural job for me. I initially wanted to get a Masters Degree in Business to assist families as a family financial planner. However, I got side-tracked when I saw a website for a Masters program in Marriage and Family Therapy. I applied to the program, was selected to study there, and haven’t looked back!
What are your long-term goals for your career? I have many long-term goals for my career. I love trying new things so I want to challenge myself in as many areas as I can. I don’t want to only see one “type” of client. I want to work with women suffering from Post-Partum Depression, victims of sexual abuse, military families who have given much for our country, the sick and their families during end of life care, and possibly financial counseling as well. To meet these goals I likely have to give up on becoming an “expert” in any one area. I am okay with that. I never want to feel bored in my position.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in your field? Is there anything you wish you knew when you were starting out My advice to anyone wishing to pursue a career in therapeutic services is to ensure that you can set boundaries for yourself. It is absolutely vital to decrease your risk of burn out. I wish I had known that starting out. I was working 6 days a week and giving more to my clients than to my husband or myself. Self-care is a must!
Is there anything else you would like to share? Never box yourself in! I was once so afraid to work with clients who had severe mental illness that I wanted to avoid jobs of that nature. I was offered a job working with clients who had diagnoses such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and severe Depression. Luckily I took the job and it has been one of the most fulfilling jobs I have experienced!