Have you ever considered working in the mental health field? Some of the most notable benefits of entering the field are that there are many career paths you can take, and the work is extremely rewarding. As with any career, there are also unique challenges. We recently asked our team, “What is one piece of advice you have for someone who is planning on entering the mental health field?” Here is what they had to say!
Explore Your Options
One common theme amongst our team’s responses was to spend time getting experience in the field before deciding exactly what you want to pursue. According to our CEO and founder, Dr. Cindy T. Graham, having a specialty is key. Figuring out your specialty takes both time and experience. She recommends trying out therapy-adjacent work such as babysitting, volunteering, or administrative roles to see how you do when helping others. One of our excellent Behavior Analysts, Revae Boykins, M.A., BCBA, LBA, also suggested that you should never stop exploring. Even after entering the field, you can continue to try different specialty areas rather than limiting yourself to one practice or area of expertise.
Cultivate Your Skills
There are certain skills that are especially important to have as a mental health professional. For example, patience can become especially important when working with clients. One of our Registered Behavior Technicians, Jada Bryant, B.S., reflected on how it can take time to see results, but it is important to have confidence in yourself and the treatment you’re implementing. It is also important to utilize skills that are unique to you. Dr. Claudia Joe Salter highlighted that each person is different, and no clinician will take the exact same approach. You should always use what works for you and be authentic to yourself.
Know the Business Side of Mental Health
Several members of the Brighter Hope team brought up how important it is to understand the business aspects of mental health, especially in the world of private practice. Deciding to be an insurance-based or self-pay practice is a big decision. There is a lot to learn as far as working with insurance companies and understanding billing. Having a strong administrative team can be really helpful in this area. Our Billing Coordinator & Office Manager, Renea Dorsey, shared that it is fulfilling to help clients deal with insurance companies to ensure they don’t pay out of pocket costs when they shouldn’t have to. This may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a prospective mental health professional, but it is essential to consider.
Challenges and Rewards
As shared by Linda Cliff, LCSW-C, being in the mental health field is rewarding but not always easy. You likely want to pursue a career in this area in hopes of helping others and changing the world. But you should also consider that the work can be difficult. Racheal Clark, Ph.D., BCBA recommends practicing the self-care strategies that are often shared with clients and setting personal boundaries. She says you must be doing well yourself to fully be present for your clients. Finding a work environment that is supportive can be very helpful in achieving this and finding the most rewarding aspects of the job. Rochelle Hanson, LCPC shared, “[Clients] tell us things that they haven’t told anybody. They haven’t told their partner, their kids or their parents. What a special position we hold where people confide in us with all their trust.”
Whether you are simply considering a future in mental health, beginning to explore what’s out there, or in the early stages of your career, we hope that you find this insight to be helpful. Make sure to look out for future blog posts where we will continue to share useful information for the next generation of mental health professionals!