As a career coach I’ve worked with many clients who have expressed interest in mental health related careers. I hear common motivators: they like working with people, they’re helpers by nature, they find psychology and human behavior interesting, and they want to be of service to the community.
Whenever a particular career interest arises, we explore it from all angles. Those intrinsic motivators are a big part of it, but we also examine the extrinsic realities: Are they aware of the education and licensure requirements? Do they have realistic salary expectations? Do they understand the realities of interning in a community mental health center? Or struggling to make a private practice thrive? Can they imagine the personal toll of constantly listening to people’s problems? Handling crisis situations?
To obtain a clear picture of any career option, I encourage my clients to research the field and talk with people working within it. With the latter exercise in mind, I embarked on my own homework assignment. In an effort to provide insight into a variety of mental health career experiences, I recently put out a call to action to the general public working in any mental health related job:
“Seeking experiences from a variety of mental health workers. Provide pros & cons and frank realities about pursuing education and careers in mental health related fields. Responses should be kept to a minimum and address the following: 1. Name, job title, and degree(s) 2. Describe of your job duties. 3. Describe one thing you find fulfilling about working in the industry. 4. What would you caution/urge prospective students to understand before embarking on a degree/career in your field?”
I received many responses—far more than I can include here—and have selected the following 23 responses for their completeness and succinctness. May this admittedly lengthy collection of career profiles help you or a loved one explore the opportunities and realities of a career in mental health.
Check out the 23 interviews on my Psychology Today blog, 23 Mental Health Professionals Interviewed About Their Jobs (opens in a new window).
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