I am a proud mental health professional. I am a proud Social Worker. I am a proud Psychotherapist and Life-Goals Coach.
Contact with other professionals is a critical part of my professional experience. It is invigorating, connecting, intimidating and challenging.
In my career, I have mostly worked on teams. Usually with a range of experience, education (formal and informal) and value systems. When I started my private practice in 2012 after being in social service and business since 1994, I realized I would need to proactively search and connect to other professionals.
Why? Like everything we tell our clients - social support is one of the top items needed for a healthy existence. Whatever I realize on my own, I realize better and faster with others. We grow in connection.
I started a group now called Central NJ Mental Health Professionals Network. I hired a clinical supervisor. I hired a therapist. And I began teaching other professionals as an instructor with Rutgers University.
I just finished presenting a workshop with the amazing clinical team at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, NJ. So this topic is fresh on my mind.
I left that night thinking about the clinicians and mental health advocates I get to witness, support, guide and learn from in their journeys to become the best they can be for their clients. I watched the team I taught that evening as they interacted with each other and how we ended up sitting together in more of a round table discussion than a lecture.
Here was a group of people, each with their own individual struggles, who pushed through traffic, unaffordable rent, Western culture of no breaks and go go go, not to mention the actual work of client after client in emotional pain and their attempts at various ways to cope. Just cope.
While I believe it is our duty to keep some people out of this line of work, it is also our duty to truly and practically support the ones that really "get it" to stay in it and grow in it. The ones that get that it is not their degrees that now make them valuable. The ones that get that no one else is responsible to make them feel good, satisfied, important, seen, heard, valued. The ones that get that when we all work on our own stuff we get better for everyone we interact with and the ripple effect has the capacity to change the world. The ones that get that helping is more important than any ego and that most of what you do will do unnoticed and unappreciated...even by you if you are not careful. The ones that get that effectively caregiving while we best care for ourselves is a gift unlike any other.
After many of the interactions I have with other professionals, I leave intimidated. I feel that I can never be as good as them. Those are the ones I want around me. They challenge me to reach my next level. I see where I want to get professionally and I strategize to get there. All while directly and proactively asking for support.
If you are considering becoming a clinician or are long in the trenches...I salute you!