Blog anniversary and giveaway!

Earlier in the month, I saw an alert that said it had been my 4 year anniversary in WordPress. While completely astonished that it had been so long, it made me feel a sense of gratitude to this space I come to when I need to write and express myself.

For that, and to end May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, I am doing a giveaway!

I am giving away two of the stickers I have on my Society6 store to two lucky winners!

To participate:

  1. Follow the blog via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or WordPress.
  2. Share this post either by sharing to Facebook, Twitter or by reposting the Instagram post. Whatever works for you! Just make sure to do it publicly.
  3. Tag me in the post!

 

Participate before June 14. I will announce the winners on June 15!

Good luck!

 

 

Social media accounts:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

 

 


Disclaimer: family members of the writer are not allowed to participate in sweepstake due to a conflict of interest.

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Job searching in Chicago, for therapists

Hello all!

After having been job searching for a while, I believe that I could be of use to other professionals in the same position.

The general recommendations and learnings I will share in this post come from the last 9 months of active job search + 3 years of research for opportunities specific to the city of Chicago. It is not a miracle, it is not the only way, it is definitely not a magical solution. Bellow, you will also find a comprehensive list of Chicago based agencies and employers for therapists.

The job seeking candidate would be someone with a master’s level training in counseling. In Illinois, someone eligible or who is an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). It may also be helpful to social workers, psychologists, and some bachelor level graduates who are looking for behavioral health positions.

Let’s get to it!

Where to start: Specify what you want

Because the field may be really wide in terms of ways to practice I would say the first thing is to know what you want to do. Even if there isn’t a niche or a population with whom you would want to work, try and concrete what type of work is of your interest. As an entry-level therapist, some basic questions can be these:

Do I want to work in the community or in an office setting?

Do I want to work for a social service agency or for a private company?

Do I want to work with children or adults or both?

Is there any specific population that I DON’T want to work with?

Work environment

You are no longer in school, and this is not your internship. Know your worth and know what you are willing to sacrifice and what not. In my case, I knew that I did not want to drive while at work, I did not want to do community work and I did not want to do nights. I was, however, okay with working evenings and weekends, and driving a little further if the agency was worth the while. And it is important that you know these things because they are going to be part of so many hours of your life.

Types of positions

In relation to what I was saying above, there is a variety of positions that you will read about and be offered. What can we do and what is out of our scope?

Doable

It may be needed that you work some evenings or weekends.

Some case management is to be expected as well, but not as the main focus of your work.

Having a large caseload and doing many hours may be needed.

Undoable

We cannot do therapy with sleeping people, so if it’s a night shift, you are just a technician. Please don’t hire someone with a maser’s to do nanny work.

Full time on the phone counseling, not completely undoable, but be suspicious.

Positions that are described with action words like assist, organize, administer usually belong to jobs bellow master’s level.

Use Glassdoor

This is not only in terms of how Glassdoor can help you, but how you can help others. It is important to share our salaries and experiences with other colleagues, as that is the best way we can assure that we are treated fairly.

If you haven’t done so yet, submit your salary anonymously and help others! I have previously shared my experiences while going through the interview processes so that people know what to expect.

Networking

Sure, this is the trick that everybody knows but nobody wants to follow. There are a thousand tricks in regards to this topic that you can find anywhere else, but I won’t go there.

Specific to Chicago, I feel like there are so many fairs. There are health and wellness fairs, student and intern fairs, job fairs, cultural fairs… Most of the times the same group of employers will be there, trying to know and hire recent graduates. Take your resumes or business cards with you and talk to people about what they are looking for. Shoot them an email that night thanking them for their time.

Get trained, licensed, and certified

This is something that we should all be doing regardless, but that will also differentiate you from other candidates. Especially if you are interested in any of the “trendy therapies” like DBT or ACT, show that you have trained in those areas.

At the same time, complete your certification (NCC) or licensure (LPC) so that you are more marketable. Even if not completely required, employers and recruiters value the clarity of those certifications when looking for candidates.

Spanish speaking counselors!

Know your worth! I have kept hearing over an over about how great of a need there is for Spanish speaking counselors. However, because of obvious discriminatory reasons, I believe there is a higher chance that a Latina therapist is underpaid and underemployed. So, overall, know your worth and go for it. 

 

The real meat

Okay, I hear you saying, “all of this is great but where do I apply?” Don’t you worry, I got you.  Here you will be able to download the list of my most thorough research. 

This list includes many Chicago based agencies that will hire mental health clinicians. You will find links to their career page and sometimes a link to their Glassdoor page. These are not all of them but are some of the most relevant. Review each to see what they are looking for and if it fits with what you want.

 

So that’s it! I hope this helps you and if you know someone who is job searching, please share it with them!

And as always, contact me if you have any comments or questions.

 


Donate 🙂

Do you want to support my work? Click here to learn more!

 

 

Types of therapies: Family Systems Therapy

Welcome to another exciting #TheoryThursdays!

Briefly

The most important thing I know about family therapy is that working in therapy with a family does not mean you are having family therapy. The second most important thing I know is that you can use family therapy without a family present.

Family Systems Therapies are the theoretical approaches that use the family system to understand what is not working and to solve it at the same time. The idea that small change can lead to big changes is importantly rooted in this approach.

Therapist

A professor of mine once told us that the greatest family therapy session is that in which family members forget about the therapist being there.

The therapist will remain as objective as possible, without taking sides, and try to intervene as they would do with an individual client, to serve as a sounding board for what the family is bringing.

The use of genograms is fairly common in this approach, although it is not unique to it. A genogram is the graphic description of a family, that may include different generations, important events, and relationships and dynamics among members.

Client

A slight difference with other kinds of approaches is the use of the identified patient or identified client (IP). Usually, when a family attends therapy, they have targeted someone as the patient, the person who needs the help or around whom some problems have developed.

This does not necessarily mean that in the therapeutic journey this is the sole focus of the therapy. While there is an identified patient, the whole family unit, even the members who are refusing to come, are the clients for the therapist.

Additionally, as I was hinting above, an individual can benefit from working within a systems perspective even if they are going to treatment by themselves. Exploring this person’s genograms, generational trauma, focus on client’s relationships with others and how does interact with current difficulties are some of the examples of how that may look like.

 

To be honest, I believe Family Systems to be of particular difficulty to practice in therapy. And it is because of that that I have a great admiration for anyone working within the approach.

What do you all think? Anything I have missed? Any experience with this treatment

 

Resources/More

Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Pi Day!

π Today is Pi Day! π

Whether you celebrate it for its numeral significance, or to get yourself a good piece of dessert, I wish you a happy Pi Day! 

It is also my brother’s birthday, who is a mathematician, so it has always been a great celebration in my family. Maybe because of them as well, I have grown valuing science in its many fields.

I love science and human scientific achievement, and while maybe not completely related to mathematics, the therapeutic field owes a lot to all of the scientists who have devoted their lives into finding ways in which to improve our own. 

I want to send a special shoutout to all the women scientists out there. Yoy may be doing field work, developing new methodologies, elaborating some type of research, you may be working in a lab, or teaching others, but in any case: big thanks for your hard work. 

Take time today to honor those known or unknown scientists who do so much for society, sometimes with so little credit!

Safety Plans

Through my work as a therapist, I have often encountered the need to discuss and develop safety plans with my clients. Safety plans are more commonly used with people that have suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviors, or thoughts related to harming others.

A safety plan is a guide for yourself to have whenever you are not feeling so well. By creating this guide while you have more energy or are more stable, you are making it easier to have some go-to options for when you are not doing so great. A safety plan generally includes different sections that will help you explore what emotions you are dealing with, how to distract yourself or cope and options for you to talk to others.

They can be done by anyone, and often created within a therapeutic setting. While mostly used for the cases mentioned above, I believe they do no harm to people dealing with less severe emotional difficulties.

I have created some documents for you all to download:

Download: Blank Safety Plan

Download: Pocket safety plan an abbreviated smaller version to keep in your wallet or pocket.

Let me know what you think!

 


Disclaimer: These materials and article are not substitutes for medical care. If you are having any suicidal thoughts, talk to your therapist, call the national suicide helpline or go to your nearest emergency room.

On Staying Grounded

Lately, I’ve been finding it harder to be present. When stress hits me, my tendency is to stay in the past or the future.

I get stuck in the past by overthinking what I have done recently, these past days, or previously on the day. I ruminate on difficulties or mistakes and I replay different scenes in my head.

I get stuck in the future by thinking about what I would want to change, what could be different, and how fast I want to get there.

In either one of those situations, I completely forget to be present. I go through my day without enjoying myself, without really BEING there. 

Some years ago, I used a mindfulness bell app that helped me check with myself every so often. I would take a deep breath, reflect on how my body was feeling, and what sort of emotions were more active. Very often I would find myself clenching my teeth, being completely tense, or experiencing some sort of emotion without being aware.

This kind of bell is currently not so attractive to me, mostly because of the difficulties to have something like that at work added to an important layer of cultural appropriation of which I was not so aware some time ago. 

Now, what can we use to keep ourselves grounded? It’s much more difficult to stay present when we have to do it consciously. Whether you do it with an app or try to do it regularly here are some ideas:

Stay connected to your external senses. A classic grounding exercise would be to try to find 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you touch, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. This simple exercise will quickly bring you back to the present, as the mind is not able to focus on these external cues while worrying.

Listen to your body needs. Am I hungry? Do I need to sleep? Am I thirsty? Do I need to use the bathroom? When we are not grounded we forget about some of this internal signals. Try to consciously check with yourself. It may be more difficult than expected, especially if you are recovering from an eating disorder or addiction, as this connection to your needs may have been erased by other urges and behaviors. Don’t worry, one step at a time.

Literally feel the ground. Without wanting to reduce this notion to a new-age kind of solution, there is some benefit in connecting our physical bodies to the ground. Like in mountain pose in yoga, by standing tall and trying to connect your feet to the ground you may find your inner ground-ness increase.

Move your body. If you have difficulties with connecting to your physical body, try using your body for movement. You can try to go to the gym, practice yoga, go dancing, or stretch at the office among others. If you have mobility difficulties, you can try moving any part of your body, by doing it very consciously. How does it feel? How are you experiencing those body parts after they move? Are you more aware of them than before?

 

Do you all have any ideas to stay grounded that may be helpful for others? I want to hear them! 🙂

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