10 Dec Are We a Good Fit?
If I waived a magic wand and you had your LCSW today, what would you do with it? Before investing 3 years of your time and efforts, know why you want an LCSW and what purpose it will serve. What is your ultimate goal?
Knowing Your Outcome
It’s hard to hit a target if you don’t have one. Taking a ready-fire-aim approach to your career is like being blindfolded and playing pin the tail on the occupational donkey. Before you spend 3-6 years of your life acquiring 2000 clinical hours and 100 unpaid hours of supervision, decide what you want.
Once you know what you want, determine if you really need an LCSW to achieve it. Pursuing a license “because it may come in handy someday” is not a game plan, it’s just marking time. It wastes your talents and distracts you from discovering your true passion. It’s attractive because it shelters us from risk, fear of making the wrong decision, and from failure. But, it gives us a false illusion of doing something when unfocused action isn’t the same as progress or achievement.
Is this what you really want? Or, is it what your family wants for you or just what your friends are doing? If this isn’t coming from your heart, you’re only postponing that inevitable conversation. You know, the one where you’re suffocating, can’t pretend anymore, and you feel profound guilt for disappointing those you love. Trying to live a life that isn’t yours is a set up for failure. It’s also a tremendous time suck. You will never get back the years you spend pursuing someone else’s dream. While you mark time with actions that lack passion and personal meaning, peers in your ideal field are getting their 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours of expertise.
Understand Your Why
Why do you really want this? Get outta your head and dig deep. Find your why. Your why will reveal your life purpose. Your authentic, gut level why will keep your eye on the prize and your conviction from wavering when others retreat. If you don’t get up early, stay up late, show up no matter what, and obsess until your friends tell you to shut the F up … it ain’t your passion.
Don’t Look for Apples in an Orange Grove
I’ve worked in clinics, agencies, counseling centers, and a homeless shelter. Each environment had it’s own mode of operations, policies, skill sets, and documentation to match the setting. While the experiences were gratifying, little of what I learned was transferable to private practice.
If you don’t know why you want an LCSW, you’ll spend the next few years ticking off boxes with little enthusiasm. That’s a pretty miserable way to spend the next verrry looooong 3-6 years. It’s also a drain on your partner, family, and friends who’ll watch you suffer. However, if you still decide to pursue an LCSW, as sort of an insurance policy in case you ever need it, I respect your autonomy and offer my candid advice.
Warning: Candor Alert
There are easier places, than a high-end private practice, to acquire clinical and supervision hours. Meeting the expectations of private patients and private insurance companies is formidable. And, we challenge our team to raise their standards of excellence to exceed all expectations. If private practice isn’t your ultimate goal, consider getting your hours at a clinic, agency, or a large group practice. A private group practice with 40+ therapists is the same as a clinic. It’s just privately owned. You won’t get individual attention, but you can coast under the radar in a big box environment. That may be all you’re ready to invest in a license you’re not sure you’ll ever need. (I forewarned you I was candid.) But, if you know your passion and purpose is to serve in private practice … read on!
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Okay, let’s assume you know what you want. You want to be in private practice. No, you don’t just want it. It’s your calling. You know why you’re committed to achieve this and you’re doing it for you. Your LCSW isn’t a back up plan. It’s a giant leap toward fulfilling your goals and life purpose. Therefore, the environment and team that you choose should be different from someone ticking off hours without an identified outcome.
Success Leaves Clues
Decide what you want out of the next 3 years. What do you need to learn to succeed in private practice? Who already knows this and where are they? Put yourself in an environment with people who are already successful at doing what you want to do.
In seeking your tribe, you must distinguish genuine opportunities for learning and professional growth from misleading job ads. We’ve led workshops at Columbia and NYU to teach new grads to ask the right questions and avoid deceptive employment promises. The truth is: No one pays a fee-for-service LMSW $90K with full benefits. Indeed, does indeed lie. And, you may have to see a client at night or on a weekend, if that’s the only time they can meet. My best advice is…
Find a Mentor
Find a mentor. Nothing has greater value. Find a sage mentor who has lived the life. They can teach you what you’ll never learn at school or in workshops. Time is your most valuable resource. A great mentor will shave years off your learning curve. (If your priority is a weekend off or a few extra bucks over being mentored, this isn’t your passion. So, pass on this already and enjoy your weekends!)
You were put on this Earth for a reason. There’s greatness in you. So, whatever it may be… find your purpose and your passion. Know your outcome. Then, focus your efforts on what moves you in the right direction, in the right environment, with kindred spirits. If you believe you’re in the right place and we’re the right fit for you, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!