Monday, January 29, 2007

A Confidence Booster

I have been very wary of my progress on the unit. I didn't think that I was doing a bad job, but not exactly the greatest job in the world. I tend to be very critical of myself and my work and sometimes a perfectionist. I feel like if I don't know the right thing to say to a client, I have failed that client and have failed myself as a counselor. I'm slowly learning that the counselor doesn't always magically get the right words to come out of their mouths. But I'm learning to find those words even if it takes a few moments of silence.

I'm definitely getting a lot more comfortable leading groups. I was very shy, cautious, and nervous when I first started. I think I've gotten over the shy and nervous, but am still very cautious which isn't necessarily a bad thing. When working with adolescents and children, especially adolescents, I've learned that to an extent you have to be very selective in the comments you make because the wrong words could just set them off...then you're back at the beginning.

So on to the confidence booster. I leave at noon on mondays, so I'm home for the day now. Right before I left, my supervisor told me that "we're really happy with the work you've done here so far." That felt so good to hear that, because I wasn't happy with the work I've done so far. I don't think I'm doing bad, I'm just not that educated yet in the practicality of counseling. She then went on to ask if I'd be interested in a job as a client social worker when I graduate. Since I'm getting my degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, I didn't think my degree would be compatible with the job, but she said that they would just call me a social worker..I don't need an MSW. Whatever...I wish people acknowledged what my profession actually is, but I guess it's kind of all the same thing.

Here's the thing. I would love nothing more to work at River Oaks. I really would. It's a wonderful place and I love being on the unit. I love working with kids and adolescents. I look forward to it everyday. But then the subject of salary came up. She said as a professional right out of school, I would be looking at $13-$15/hour. I don't think so. It's so frustrating. I can't live off of that, but at the same time, this is the perfect job for my interests and it's the only psyc hospital in the area that has an inpatient adolescent unit. Maybe the salary will change. Maybe I can negotiate...lord only knows.

It's always interesting to see how the clients have changed over the weekend when I come back on Monday's. Half of my clients were discharged over the weekend. Some seem to have made incredible progress over the weekend. I just wonder sometimes if that progress is an act to get discharged or if they've really learned something. I guess either way, they've learned at least what they need to do to stay out, and even if it's an act it would improve their quality of life somewhat and bring up the GAF scores. It's strange...I notice that I make predictions for clients. The one's that I think will get better quickly sometimes regress just when I think they're doing great. There are others that I think will never change and they make huge strides of improvement. It just goes to show that the human mind is very unpredictable.

It's a good start to the week and hopefully it remains that way. Off to clinic in an hour where I will see my first one on one counseling session. Nervous but excited!


Carl V. said...

Being patient and taking the time is never a bad idea on the job, especially in the mental health field. Often it is the quick, off-the-cuff responses that a person regrets.

Not sure exactly where you live off the top of my head but those wages are unfortunately pretty average, at least for right out of school. Getting a good variety of experience and putting some years under your belt will be the best thing you can have for negotiating your salary. Things also vary from place to place. My experience was that inpatient was never the best paying gig, salaries are usually better in an outpatient setting.

Just don't get discouraged and do your best, remember that you aren't the client's saviour, just a person to help them get pointed in the right direction.

Chris said...

Thanks for the tips Carl! I'm starting to accept that I won't be rich from this job. I never thought that I would, but $13 and hour sounds so low. I live in New Orleans by the way. Not the best paying place in any field. I'm willing to sacrifice salary though for having a job that I enjoy going to. It would just be alot better if the two were compatible.