Last post addressed some of the financial struggles of working as an LPC-Intern. This post will briefly cover the three main employment opportunities while interning:
- private practice (under supervision if your state allows you to do this)
- agency work
- school counseling
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and aspirations of being in private practice, I think this is the best route. Learning to run a business is just as important as learning to be a good counselor. You can do both at the same time if you are able to find a supervisor that will give you the opportunity. Some of the possible downsides are: you will pay for supervision, limited direct client hours causing longer time to earn full licensure, and fluctuating income. In this setting, the money you make will be tied directly to how many clients you see. Some people like the "safer" route of finding a job with stable income.
This seems to be the most common route for LPC-Interns to find work and complete supervision hours. You might find a job at MHMR, state or county mental health facilities, correctional institutions, or some other agency that is funded by government. The positives are: stable employment, free supervision (not always, but this is common), a lot of experience working with different cultures and mental health diagnoses, and you will likely have an opportunity to collect your supervision hours quickly. The possible downsides are: long work hours, minimal pay, work mostly with high stakes clientele, and burnout.
If you have teaching experience (typically a minimum of two years), you can pursue a job as a school counselor. The positives are: better pay than agency work, time off, stable employment, free supervision (if available in the school district), and you can complete your intern hours fairly quickly. The possible downsides are: limited counseling experience to working with children (if you only want to treat children, this won't be an issue), lack of upward mobility (no position to aspire further to in the future), salary is relatively static. This is the route I took. But, I found an LPC Supervisor running a private practice that taught me about owning my own business as well.
These are VERY simplified overviews of each type of employment many LPC-Interns obtain. If you would like more information on any of these, send me a message and I'll be happy to help. Here are the two things I recommend you focus on when pursuing your internship:
- What type of work will give you experience to meet your long term goals?
For example, if you want to build your own business, find experience that will teach you how to develop your business and therapy skills.
- Find a great supervisor.
There are a lot of supervisors out there. Remember, you are interviewing them. Most likely, you will be paying them a fee, so expect to get value for your payment. Don't settle for someone. Do your research, interview the prospective supervisor, and meet with multiple candidates before selecting the right fit. Find one that can help you meet your long term goals in this field, and that hopefully can be a life long mentor.
Counseling is still a business, and a way for you to earn income. As you get started in your career, I challenge you to find an internship opportunity that connects you with the right people and experiences to grow your career and meet your long term goals. Good luck, and message me if I can help answer any questions you may have.