Transitioning from Counselor to CES Doctoral Student
5:34PM Nov 24, 2023
Michael Jones, PhD
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Hello, everybody, my name is Michael Jones. I'm gonna welcome you back to the thoughtful counselor Podcast. Today I'm really excited about the guests that we have with us. Our guests name is Helen Jennings hood. And I want to give you a little bio about Ellen and I kind of jump in from that perspective. Helen Jennings hood is a licensed professional counselor based in Win Arkansas. She specializes in psychotherapy, particularly for women and individuals from the LGBT, LGBTQ and trans communities, addressing challenges such as anxiety, depression, perfectionism, and the stress of high expectations. Her approach is centered on helping price unlearn all messages and patterns, fostering growth, empowerment and Improve Self Esteem. She adopts a person centered progeria and treatment orientation her practice with an intersection of intersection of feminine twist, she is practiced over five years and holds a postgraduate degree from Arkansas State University. Her practice the daring space offers private therapy services. And Helen as an aspiring researcher presents frequently accounting conferences, and as a co chair of the ethics committee for the Arkansas Counseling Association. And Helen is also a current doctoral student in counselor education supervision at the University of Colorado. And so, Helen is one thank you for being on here with me today. Knowing that, Oh, glad, glad to have you glad to have you. I've known Helen for several years now, we've had a great opportunity to be able to present together and do a lot of different work together in a counseling field. And so just excited about you being here today. And so, what I want to do before we kind of get into our topic for the day, it just is I usually do at the beginning of the podcast is ask, what made you decide to become a counselor? That's it for me, to me that always kind of helped set the stage for where we're going for the day. So what was it that made you decide, hey, counseling is a way for me to go?
Well, like all things that I do, I took the long way round. And I started out with a philosophy degree because you know, that that paves the way for conflict. But I got my philosophy degree. And while I was doing that I was searching for master's programs or you no further education programs to go through because I, I really enjoyed school, I really enjoyed learning. And so I found the A state clinical mental health counseling degree program, probably halfway through my philosophy per degree. And I decided that that was what I was going to do. It sounded like it fit really well. I went and talk to the chair about the program itself and things like that. And so as I was getting my philosophy degree, I got my psychology classes that I needed to apply to the program. So I kind of doubled up for a little bit, but I knew pretty early on, you know, before graduating, that that's what I wanted to do. It just it felt like the next step. It felt very natural, and it felt like something I was excited to, you know, it felt like a goal I could work towards.
And how's that journey been? So for being a counselor?
It's been pretty great. It feels very, I mean, I don't know, it's just a really good fit. For me. It's, it's a, I feel like it's kind of an extension of who I am and a lot of the things that I kind of naturally gravitate towards, you know, listening to people talking to people, I'm working with people on difficult things. It's been wonderful. I think that when you think about counseling and you know people thinking advantage of or working in therapy services, like there's that thought of just like one on one counseling, but counseling has been so broad and so like robust for me like there's so many pieces and parts of it and it's So it's been really exciting to get to be part of that. And to not just work one on one with people or in groups, but to, you know, meet other counselors and do research and write, and all these other things that come along with the profession, it's been really rewarding.
And I think for me, it's been very nice being a part of that journey to a certain extent, you know, being able to, you know, in my time of supervision with you being able to see kind of bringing cases that you were dealing with, and just the way your mind kind of worked about, about around cases and how you kind of how you conceptualize things. So, it was always neat to be in supervision with you, because you wouldn't ask like the, the normal questions for, for lack of a better term, when it when it came to the client, you know, I know a word you use quite a bit as a curiosity. And I really enjoyed watching your curiosity as you are working with clients. And when it comes to finding a solution for whatever they're dealing with, you wouldn't take a traditional route ever. And so that was like, I mean, that was that was really neat, being able to, to see that whole process. And watch you grow from now from that brand new master's student, to somebody who's fully licensed. And if so, it's been, it's been nice to kind of be on, on the outside going on watch now process for you. So that's, that's been, that's been cool for me on that for a part of it.
I appreciate that. Because I think that, you know, your support, and my curiosity and looking at things differently has, you know, been really instrumental. I remember in my graduate program, specifically being taught not to be curious about your clients, because curiosity was self serving. And so you know, you structure your questions and use open ended questions, or you make statements and reflection, in order for it to always make sure you're being therapeutic, and you're not being personally curious. But that never, never felt right to me, because I feel like we should be curious about the people that sit across from us, because, you know, it really invests us in them. And it shows that we're interested, and it brings out pieces of them that I think maybe are not always able to be brought out in other ways. And so like, being kind of openly curious, was kind of going against my training. So it was nice to have your support and to like, be able to use that therapeutically, instead of just like shutting it down and being like, Oh, this is self serving. And, you know, I can see, you know, both sides of it, you know, not going too far into curiosity and leaving your therapeutic tools behind, but also like having a healthy dose of that, because I think, I think counselors can benefit from having a pretty good dose of curiosity about not just the people we're working with, but the field itself and the things we can do with it.
And I think this would our interactions that we've had, as I saw that curiosity grow, I kind of saw it changed a little bit, you know, we will be talking about counseling cases. And then I will randomly get like a journal through the through the email from you like, Hey, have you seen this journal? And here's something I'm thinking about? And I'm just sound like, Where's this coming from? So it was it was neat to kind of see this just how you, you thought through things, and it was more than just, hey, I'm seeing a client. Here's it, here's a situation I'm dealing with. He was more of Have you thought about this before? Or have you ever have you looked at this, and it was like it was, for me, you haven't been a counselor for a long time. That was encouraging to me as well to see, okay, a this, this next generation of counselors, they, they, they're thinking about not just a client, but thinking about the profession as well. And that was very encouraging for me, too. So it was that was supervision, which was great, just kind of going through that process with you. And so it was, it was good to have a supervisee that pushed me but also pushed me in a positive way. They kind of think of things a lot differently. So I appreciate that.
So I think that's, honestly, I think that, you know, there's a vice and virtue with the rabbit thoughts and my brain that won't always shut off. And it's always looking for, you know, learning more about things and thinking about things differently. And something that I really work on with a lot of my clients is like, you know, viewing what we're struggling with, or viewing the problem, quote, unquote, and turning it around and looking at it different ways. As if in our mind's eye. It's like a physical object that we can manipulate and so finding new ways to approach things. And so I try to practice that as as well. Because you know, if I need to walk the walk and talk the talk, if I'm telling people to do this, if it's something helpful, I have to do it myself.
Exactly, exactly. So I know today our topic is we're looking at what is it looking at looking at transition from being a clinician to being a doctoral student, and so I know we had a couple conversations He's not going to get get to I don't want to tell your story for you. But I know we had a couple conversations about that. And so that's why I want to kind of focus on the our time on today is no, you're no, you're in proper practice, you're going your own private practice, you're seeing clients, you're, you're presenting, you're doing a lot of different things in this counseling field already. So I'm kind of curious, what gets your attention stood aside one day, hey, I'm going to continue to do counseling. But now I'm going to make a lot of this transition to where I'm going to go into a Ph. D. program for counselor education and supervision. So I would love to kind of hear what was what was that thought process for you, when you were making that decision?
Lloyd it was very convoluted lots of rabbit thoughts there. But um, I think the, the groundwork essentially was laid for that way back when, like when I'm talking about, you know, deciding to get a philosophy degree, but then also deciding that I want to do something further. And that that doesn't have to just look like going into the field of philosophy only. How can this look differently? And how can I use what I have to keep moving? So way back when thinking about, you know, being in my graduate program for counseling, I had several professors tell me that they thought I would go into teaching one day, and I could tell him, no, no, no, I'm not interested in that. I don't think I'm gonna go back to school, after I'm done with this, this is enough school. And kind of putting it away and not thinking about it anymore for a while. And then being able to have the opportunity. Our friend, Dr. Joe Campbell, gave me the opportunity to adjunct for his program, interested in and realizing that I really love teaching, and that it's, you know, it's the next step for me, I'm really passionate about and really excited about it. And so how can I make it so that I can do more of that, and naturally, really are getting a PhD in counselor education, supervision is kind of the next step for that. But I kind of struggled with that, I think, deciding there were so many factors in deciding, you know, of course, financial, logistical, energy time, you know, I have a family, I have a house to run, I have a business to run. There were so many components of it. And the program that I wanted to go to originally was going to require a lot of travel back and forth, not that far away. But it would be a lot of back and forth travel, which would take time away from my family and my work. And then the, you know, the financial aspect of it. And I really went back and forth with that for a long time. And that was the main thing that had kept me from thinking about it before honestly. Just those details of how would this look for me, in my life, what would what would my quality of life be? How much time would I have for my family? Would I have time to work as much as it needed to? And like the workload itself? Thankfully, I have wonderful people who support me, you are one of them. Dr. Stephen gotay is another Dr. Joe Campbell's another and these people really talk to me about what it looks like be in a PhD program, what the workloads are, like, what their experiences were, how they navigated that during that time. And that gave me a lot of perspective about what was feasible, and what I could do. And so then, I decided, I guess, the beginning of this year, that this is something I really did want to pursue as a start trying to work on the application, which it felt kind of like a job itself. It was pretty intimidating. But I got it done. And that felt really, we weren't rewarding, I got accepted into the program at Cumberlands. And I was really nervous. It was very different than anything that I've you know, tried to do before with the way the other classes are structured. And I wasn't familiar with the the people that were working in the program or anything like that. So there was a lot of there was a lot of fear, I think into you know, being a perfectionist, I wanted everything to go perfectly and there was no assurance that that could happen. But I'm glad that I did it. And I'm glad that I'm going through it now. Sometimes I question the timing a little bit, but I do know that the goal that I'm looking for to be a full time teacher and counseling education, I know that that's what I want. And so that kind of keeps you moving forward when things are stressful.
You mentioned like several factors that you know, played into that decision, you know, workload and family and, and just capacity in general to be able to do all those things. What do you feel like so far has I just jumped What do you think has been the most difficult so far? Well, I guess we'll start there.
Um, the balance, which, you know, balance is a human problem, right? We're always looking for balance, and I'm not sure that there is like, you know, that balance, it's always a kind of ebb and flow. But I think the, the energy I put into it, because you know, when I do something, I want to do the best that I can. But if I'm doing, you know, if I'm teaching for Henderson, and I'm working with clients in my private practice, and I'm picking up kids from school, and doing dinner, and doing housework, and all this stuff, like, I can't give all of it my best, right, I've got to figure out how to portion that up, so that I can do the best that I have in that moment with those things and having to prioritize, so you know, making sure that my family has what they need, and that, you know, their doctor's appointments to go to, or, or birthday parties to go to, or things like that, like, in the grand scheme of things, I feel like, oh, you know, my paper is more important at this time. But then I think about, you know, the investment, and how I'm showing up, like, I talked to people all week long, about how to show up for people that I care about, and what it means to them when people show up for them. And so, you know, once again, like practicing what I preach, I can show it for my people. And my paper can work, right, and sometimes that mean them up really late, you know, at the 11th hour trying to write my paper and stressing about it and stressing about it. And so that kind of that's the hard part when I you know, when I'm low on time, and I have to do these things like they all have to be done. And making sure that my priorities are right, even if like I can't stop thinking about the paper while I'm at the book.
I gotcha. And I appreciate your honesty, the answer because I and that was one reason I really wanted to talk about this topic today. Because I think there are a lot of clinicians out there who may be considering you, okay, I've been in the field for a little bit. I do want to go back and teach in getting a PhD is an extremely important part of that process. And so there are those things that people are thinking about. And so I think it's sometimes it can be easy to kind of focus on, like the positive things, and which is great. But if we don't really talk about other stuff, too, that, that that affects that decision, then you don't really get a good realistic perspective. Okay, what does this actually look like if you're trying to go in and go into this into that space? So yeah, I appreciate you sharing that with us. So though, content kind of still continuing to advance in that vein, and kind of the difficult pieces and things like that, you know, and you talked about priorities? How do you how do you figure out what is the priority at a certain time period, because I would imagine, there's factors that play into that as well.
That is, that's, I have a hard time with that. Because like, everything's a priority to me. But something I've learned over time is that really priority is not actually a you know, a word that can be stretched to many things priority is one thing at a time. And so I struggle with that. But something I do every day, no matter what I have going on is I put down three things that need to be done. They're not, you know, I want to do them, even though I'll often I do want to do them. But they must be done. In order for me to function in order for me to give anything they have to be done. And they're usually very simple. Usually, it's like clean read, rest, or clean, right rest or something like that. But I know that for my perfection itself, if I get those things done, or even do a piece of those, I can feel good about the work that I put in. And a lot of times, like my rest includes time with my family. And, and so kind of balancing those things and asking for help is something I've had to learn to do. And I'm not really comfortable with it. I'm trying to get better at it. And I'm trying to go out of my way to ask for help and support. You know if I need help with the house or with you know, running errands or grocery pickup or anything like that, but also, you know if I need help with a paper, or you know what class to take next or something like that, talking to people who I know will be honest and open with me and are willing to help and want to help. Mentors have been a huge part of this decision making process for me. And I can even think back to before I graduated my bachelor's degree. My quant professor for my psychology research classes was a woman named Dr. Loretta McGregor is a wonderful woman so passionate about psychology and statistics. And she had approached me when I was taking that class and said, you know, you want to go into education. And I would like to mentor you to go into administration and education, because I think that you would be really good at that. And I told her, you know, I'm looking at this critical health instead, but I really appreciate it. But I mean, that she saw something in me and approached me about it, and the way that she handled that class and everything, like, I think about that when I think about becoming a teacher, and I'm gonna be somebody else's Dr. McGregor. I want to be someone who builds and grows someone else. And that's kind of what keeps me going, when I'm like, Okay, this is, you know, this is too much. I want to be present with my children, I want to be present, you know, to do I want to travel and this and that, and the other. And that's what kind of keeps me like, centered, like, I may not be able to give 110% to duck program all the time. But I can do it because I have this bigger goal in mind.
To get theme have heard you say this in the conversation so far is that word mentorship, and it's come up quite a bit. How do you feel like the mentorship you received, it has helped you I guess, in making that transition into a doctoral program.
It's been invaluable, like even thinking about where to begin, how to even think about categorizing different programs and different schools that offer doctorate programs. You know, every little detail from people's own experiences and you know, the pros and cons that they experienced and sharing that with me talking about what they wish they'd done differently and I had a conversation with Dr. gotay who is really helped me along with this process as well. And I was like, you know, you were a woman keeping house and you know, working with your family and working and doing all this what did that look like for you? And do what you know, that I have going on? Is that feasible? And so we talked about what that be feasible for a brick and mortar school, would it be feasible for an online school and she was very honest about that and what her experience was going to a brick and mortar school versus the flexibility of an online school. And that's kind of ultimately why I decided to go to an online school instead of a brick and mortar campus because the flexibility I needed was there and being able to hear other people's experiences from online programs getting their doctorate like you talk to me about your experience and that was invaluable to say okay, this is what this process looks like for me I would not have even gone on that journey at all without like you talking to me about it Dr. Cote talking to me about it Dr. Campbell talking to me about his experience and you know, the the ins and outs of what it even looks like to be in a doctoral program because you know, looking at it from the outside in, you know, just looking at a website or something like that is totally different than what it actually feels like so it's been really helpful to have that information and to hear from people who went through it.
What What would you consider and you started classes, you've been in the program for a few months now, what would you consider to be some of the obviously some surprising and a good way things that you've experienced when when it when it comes to being a doctoral student.
Um, I've been surprised most Slee at how accessible and I don't mean that in like, the, you know, getting online and you know, in my program, our textbooks are included in our tuition. So that that's amazing. But like, how easy it is to access, support and help from other students and from faculty in the program, everybody's so willing to talk and to confer to answer questions. The students in the classes are so helpful, you know, so many different people from so many different backgrounds and experiences and interests. It's just like, I don't know, it's, it's so exciting to hear so many people's ideas, and so many people's experiences of things and to be able to talk about it so openly, and ask questions to the professor's it's been, it's been so exciting and I'm a person who loves school, I love to learn things and I love that dynamic of like meeting new people and hearing and learning from them and everything. So I told my husband I was like, you know, it's, it's like being in classes full of other me's feels so good to like, you know, just be able to talk about these things and, and to be able to kind of have all these discussions around like the assignments that we're doing. And I was really intimidated by the work level, which I'm still in, you know, my third class. So I'm sure that this will change over time, but the work has been enjoyable. And it's not been, you know, I've stressed about it, because that's who I am. But it's not been terribly hard. And I don't mean that in like, it's too simple, or, you know, whatever, you know, I know, by the time you get to the point that you're going into a doctorate program, you have a certain level of knowledge and training and education. And so of course, it's, you know, in line with what you're doing, and it's challenging enough that you're growing. I was, I don't know, I've been, I've been surprised by how fun it's been, I think, is what I'm trying to say. So it's really had a good time so far.
Especially if, especially if you're like one of those people, that's a lifelong learner, and who enjoys education and just just enjoys kind of expanding your brain and the things you're thinking about, I can see how those classes would kind of kind of turn that up inside of you to to want to continue to do that.
So you know, absolutely, yeah.
So what what will be what would you say has been like, since you've been at making this transition, what are some things that I've had to know, take a back seat, I guess, in your life, because I think, you know, whenever we're looking at doctorate programs, especially for we're in full time clinical practice, things have to shift something shift as well for you what things have kind of had to shift for you in that process.
With the combination of going to classes for the program, and then teaching classes for Henderson, I've had to give up with a majority of my evenings, which has been very hard for me, because I've learned over time in private practice, that my evenings are something I need for me and my family and my house, and my hobbies and things like that, like, I can work all day, but I need those evenings. And so this has been really an investment period of like, everything in higher education in this way happens in the evenings, for good reason, you know, every buddy else is working during the day too. And so for accessibility that have to be in the evenings, but that really cuts into that time that we usually reserved for, like personal life and living. And so that's been, that's been really hard. That's probably been the hardest part, honestly, just giving up the evenings, and so many of the evenings, because, you know, I'm only taking one class at a time. And so it's just one evening out of the week. But, you know, not everybody has the luxury to go through it at their own pace. And so, you know, that could be several evenings in teaching. That's, that is several evenings for me. So that is hands down the hardest part.
So, you know, you talked about kind of given given up those those evenings, for that? How are you? How are you? I guess, for replacing that time? The answer, if you've, if you're if you're missing it that those evenings, what are some things I guess, you know, we talked about self care a lot in the counseling field, what are those things you're doing for self care as a part of this process?
Well, um, to be honest, I don't do a lot. And I know that's not that's not good practice. But to think about, you know, I talk with my clients a lot about different periods in life, and how we have to adjust different periods in life. And if there's that investment period that's happening where maybe, yes, you are spending less time on hobbies or personal things or taking care of yourself or your family, you know, that's that investment period, there's an understanding that this is you know, this is go time, you're gonna push a little harder, you're gonna do a little more, and you're not gonna have as much bounce with that risk. But they're also always needs to be a point where this will be over, you need to have the end in sight in some way. You need to have an escape plan, because investment periods can not be indefinite, that they're not sustainable. And so you know, I'm kind of looking at this right now as an investment period. But I have my end date in mind. And I have a emergency plan, say I get overwhelmed and I just can't continue as being someone who has burned myself out continuously, in my LIC days, before I had my full licensure. I now am trying to very hard to look at that and to kind of plan what happens when I start to notice those things. What is my escape plan? What's my emergency plan to get out of this or to change this or to take a step back? And so while right now it's just about investment, and that's investment in my career investment in myself and my edge Vacation. That's also like, you know, if it gets to a point where I feel this way, or start to notice these things that has to change. So these are the things that I do when I noticed that
you've said the word investment a lot I like to pick up on as a researcher, me, but But you use the word investment a lot. What what eight describe for us, what do you feel like you're investing in so like, you know, usually when you you make an investment, like I said, there's there's just sacrifice in the middle of that. But there's a long term goal for that investment. So what what is your long term goal with this, this investment in becoming a counselor educator.
My goal for the energy and the time that I'm investing is to be a full time counseling educator, that's something that I, you know, feel is my kind of next step, that's the next thing I want to do, it's very important to me, I get a lot out of it. And I love growing new clinicians and graduate students. And it's just, it's really exciting to work in that way. It's not the same as counseling one on one or in groups, but it's it's a very similar feeling, it's very rewarding. So that's my goal. And that's why I'm investing the time that I'm investing now in this because I'm investing in myself. And when I can be, you know, I don't see this goal as like, something outside of myself, I see this as something I'm becoming. And so I'm investing in putting out energy, but really, it's coming back to me and growing me. So I'm investing in myself.
I like that. So what what can the counseling field expect from you down the road? I mean, I know that a lot of different research interest and there's certain populations that you enjoy working with things that nature, but what where do you see yourself? I know you want to teach but what impact are you expecting to have on the on the counseling field by the studying things you're doing right now.
One thing I think about a lot is just finding a way to grow new clinicians through their education and training. And helping them I guess, create that curiosity for themselves so that they continually grow, you know, the counseling field is not a static thing. It's something that's always changing and always growing, because the world around us is changing and growing in different ways. And I want to teach new clinicians specifically to be curious about that, and to always be taking in new information so that they can be the best clinicians that show up in that room with their client. Because I think that if we're teaching the same old, same old things, and you know, always kind of sticking with this, one way of thinking, we're not serving the purpose that we need to be serving. So I want to, you know, in, I guess, invest curiosity and innovation into them as counselors, I want them to be, you know, thinking different ways about things and, you know, growing themselves and growing those around them, and kind of teaching that community again, because I think we kind of have lost that and a little bit like counselors, being with other counselors and learning from each other. And you know, there's probably a pandemic thing, that we're just kind of siloed away from each other. But I really want to see that grow. And so I want to, I want to do those things. And I want to be able to give that to other people and to work with other people. So they have that. But to their I've, as I've gone through, you know, my dog program, I'm in thinking about different research grants, or even dissertation ideas or paper ideas or anything like that, I, I've found so many gaps in places where we need to be as counselors, but where we don't have information that we need to show up in the way that we need to. And I really want to work to build some of that, you know, even if it's just like a brain to get it started, you know, or to talk to someone else and get them excited to get it started. And one that I would really like to see for myself is I'm a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. And I really would like to kind of travel back and forth there. It's not that far away for me from where I live and build some educational literature for counselors on working with these populations, because there's just there's not anything out there. And you know, it's a population that has the structure and has mental health care services, but the need is so much higher. And I would love to be able to develop something like that because that's something that I would love, you know, to have and I think other counselors would love to have that as well. And so kind of bringing the counts playing field for we're even more
as in my role as a counselor educator? No, I do. I'm a part of the doctoral committee for admissions. And one of the things that questions that usually ask us now, why do you want to get this degree and so it's always interesting to hear different aspects of what someone wants to go from the clinician, and now they want to be in as a counselor, educator. But to me, I think it's a rare thing. Sometimes you hear people talk about, no, this isn't as, as you kind of ordered that this investment that you put in themselves. But then at this, at the end of the day, they have a group of people that want to give back to, as well. And so I really liked that as you're, you're thinking about the Choctaw Nation and your sociation there and being able to say, Okay, I want to be able to use what I'm doing. And but be targeted with that as well, in the long run, because I agree with you, I think we, there's there's some areas, we really have kind of dropped the ball game Council education. And so it's nice to kind of hear that you're thinking you're thinking about that already at the beginning of your program, before you book before you continue to progress there.
Yeah, I think it's, um, I think I particularly am in a good situation to be able to kind of bridge that, hopefully, and, you know, maybe gaining some people along the way, who feels similarly, but also thinking about, like, I've noticed that across my trajectory, you know, talked about several different mentors that I've had, and they've been so important in my educational career and in my counseling career, but learning along the way, as people have poured into me that I want to be that person, and for somebody else I want to pour into other people, I want to find their passions and their interests, and I want to support them in, in gaining those things, and working towards those things. And I think that we need, we need that kind of structure of being helped and then helping and you know, kind of giving forward in our profession, because I think that's how gains are made.
So no, so you have counselors who are listening to this, they're on the fence figuring out okay, do I do I stay there continue to do clinical work? Do I decide to go in another direction and go into into a doc program? What advice would you give them is that as they're kind of on the fence, trying to make kind of make that decision between between those two rounds.
I think the biggest thing for me was I needed a challenge. And I felt like I was outgrowing my role as just being a clinician. So, you know, I thought about several different avenues that I could take, you know, I could go, you know, I could go into another discipline, you know, maybe go into nursing and work towards being a psychiatric nurse with the counseling degree, I could, you know, get a specialization or get a different certification and become specialized in some other form of practice, or I could go into a PhD, and become a teacher. It's a very personal thing, I think, for each person who is at that point of making the decision about what challenge to accept next which area to invest in next. But for me, I think, like I said, like the, the building blocks have been set up, way back when even you know, in my undergraduate of, I see this and you and you have the propensity to do well in this, you're continuing to my graduate program, and then a supervision. And then with the opportunity to teach at Henderson from Dr. Camp Campbell. Like, I think that all of that kind of lined up for me, and not everybody's going to have the same experience. But to look at what challenge is most exciting, it may also be the most scary because I think this was also the most scary for me, but but being afraid doesn't mean that it's bad, it just means that it's new. And so being friendly, anyway, has kind of been you have to take the leap sometimes but make sure that it's something that is going to grow you make sure it's not just something to check off your list, or because somebody tells you that you know, this is the next step for you or whatever. It has to be about what you need because it's it's not worth the balance in the struggle. If it's not for you it's not worth the investment if it's not something that is investing in you.
Why because that because I because I definitely agree that people do do for a lot of different reasons and that I don't want to say anybody that's for batteries. My distinction. I think the reasoning why people want to go into a dark program, there's a lot different motivations for that. But I would, I would always say that for some I've talked to them, it was more of, for some people, it may be a thing where, okay, I just wanna get this next degree just so I can say I had it, which is great in it that's go good. That's a lot of work just to have just a degree, just say you have one. But if that works for you, good, but it's neat to hear that, you know, there's this, there's a, there's a passion behind it for you. And, though, but you also have a very specific goal of where you're heading with that in down the road. And so that, that's interesting, can kind of hear that from you.
Why? Well, I think, you know, at the end of the day, you have to vote for me, because everybody's different. But for me, I had to listen to what what I was in the world in the grand scheme of things, who I am, how I show up, the kind of person I am, what my values are. Those kinds of things like that's what led me to the, you know, the clinical mental health degree in the first place when I was still in my undergraduate program. That's what led me there. And that was part of what led me where I am now in everything that I've done. So, you know, kind of listening to what, what I wanted and what I needed. And that's not to say there wasn't a healthy dose of like questioning and, you know, refusing or avoiding. But I think that's kind of where mentorship has come along, and kind of seeing everything. Excuse me, why not? So that it kind of makes some make some sense, I guess, listening to me listening to people around me that I trusted. And just, you know, thinking about what I was capable of? Yes.
So how was your curiosity come out so far? In the doc program?
I'm, I'm limitlessly curious, it's terrible. I've changed, you know, they encourage you to at the very beginning, in the first class, think about a future dissertation and kind of be like, having a working thought about that from the get go. And I've changed my topic for every assignment. So I have like working stacks of articles for many different topics. And I think I've finally found one that I'm invested enough or are interested or curious enough that I can kind of follow it through a little longer, but I also probably will change that. So you know, deciding on one thing has been the biggest drawback from being curious in the program. But the biggest benefit has just been meeting so many new people listening to their experiences and hearing about their interests, and, you know, all of the readings that we have, and making connections with other people, it's, that's been a really good part of it.
And, and it sounds like you have a good a good sense of yourself as as, as a student, and also as a person was a family and also pursue brother practice. I think that that a good understanding of who you are as a person is really helpful is really playing out well as you're as you're becoming a student, because you're definitely realizing that you can only do so many things at one time. And so it was it was it was nice to hear you say to talk about love about like, their goal means that you could only have one priority, that kind of kind of going back to the further an interview, but like, you could only have one one priority and in being Okay, with that, too. I think it's really a difficult, I think it's a difficult transition to make. No one that okay, I can only have one priority at a time and and that's gonna it is gonna look different for everybody.
Yeah, that's that's been, that's been really hard. In fact, I had this conversation with Dr. Campbell, two weeks ago, I think, just texting him like, I'm, I have all these things to do. I am struggling, I don't have enough time to do them. I don't have enough energy or focus to do them. What do I do? And he his advice was to one thing at a time, what has to be done? Do that? What's the next thing do that? And I was like, you know, I was kind of like pushback against that. Because he you know, he does so much and I was like you how do you manage all the things that you do? Like you've got all these things going on? And he's like I do one thing at a time. Like it's really like that simple like that. I think it really does come down to that a lot of times like some things may not get done, and some things may not get done well. So it's about what has to be done and what has to be done right now.
think is really healthy, to make that shift throughout throughout your program, because there are going to be times where, okay, things are just gonna happen in your family where that may mean, I've got to either turn his paper in late or it may not get as much attention as I normally it normally would get whatever the case may be, because the priority that time is, is family, or private practice, you have your clients in crisis. And so they may at that time, be the thing that ends up becoming a priority. But I think that flexibility of being able to know, and have a good sense of yourself to that, okay, I know I'm making this a priority right now. But as this will always be the priority, whatever that thing is that time period.
Yeah, I think kind of allowing to let go with, like, the mental focus or the mental energy to because I tend to be stuck in my brain about, you know, maybe my, the thing I'm working on is not the paper that's due, but my brain is there with the paper. So talking to myself and being like, you know, focused on one thing at a time, that's how you give your best to that thing, even if it's not a thing that you're really wanting, or needing to do feeling like, so, you know, letting talking to myself into letting things go, mentally, as well. And that because they have their time, and they have their place.
Yeah, and, you know, having gone through that process is it to me is interesting, seeing how you're navigating that from the beginning and having that, that great self awareness from the beginning, knowing that things have things are going to shift, things are going to things are going to change. And so having to be open enough to be able and honest with yourself enough to say, Okay, I can't do everything all the time. And so I think that's that, I think that's that's a important point to think about. Because I think when you especially when you're in a doctoral program, there are a lot of things that you want to do, because because even with just just many programs, it's not just a doctoral program, there's all these different things you can do while you're in there, you know, professors are willing to do research and the casting mouth and all these different other other things. There's so many things you'd be involved in. And so seems like you also have to make a decision to at that point level, how involved am I going to get into the doctoral program once I get into it?
Yeah. And I think, you know, at this level for a lot of people, especially people kind of in my position where you know, they have young children, and they have two full time jobs or more. And all these things going on, like, it's, it's a luxury to be able to kind of navigate through that and make that decision or to choose how to do things differently. Because you're not always afforded that luxury, you just have to develop like that you cannot do everything. And for me, like there's a constant pull between what I can do is like a wife, a mother, a woman, and what I can do as a clinician, so like, I feel like those things are like all in place in conflict. Not always bad conflict, but they're always kind of, you know, butting up against each other. So that's been something I've had to recognize, acknowledge, and, you know, work through and figure out how it looks in each stage of what I'm doing. Because as I take on things, or let go of things that's going to change each time and I have to be flexible.
Yeah, no, no, I like to words that No, we've talked about flexibility. You've talked about mentorship, we talked about curiosity. And so to me, those are, really, to me, it's really salient words that have to kind of consider as people are looking at that transition period, if they if they decide to go in that direction, that there are a lot of decisions that you have to make, and everything affects everything else. And so, so you is you can't really compartmentalize a PhD program. If you really have to make some very specific decisions on where my time and effort and energy is gonna go this next hour, and then kind of go
Who do you think you'd have to have support, you have to have people around you, it has to be correct timing, for whatever reason, because of your personal work, or whatever. Like, there's so many things to think about. But I think if you have the support that you need, you are able to get a really good picture of what you're capable of. And, you know, we've talked about like, intimidating part of the work and how it's, you know, it's very different than my graduate program and things like that, but I think so many clinicians are more capable than they think they are in these areas. And you know, you can do it if it's something you want, you know, when you find the program that's right for you that fits as best possible. You know, you have the support that you need. And if it's something you want, go and get it, go and do it, you know, don't be intimidated, because the people teaching or clinicians just like you, and I came from the same graduate programs that you've come from, and it feels like a really big thing to go get a doctorate. And it is it's special, and it's wonderful. And you know, it's a beautiful thing, and not everybody wants that or choose that. But it's also if you've made it into clinical practice, it is an option for you.
Gotcha. I like them. Anything that I didn't ask that you would like to kind of add on or or a tidbit of information you think that people could use that may not have asked you about?
Um, no, I can't think of anything.
Okay, that's fine. Well, I really enjoyed talking to you about this, this process, because I know another time that you put into thinking about that, this, this whole transition from you know, a mission and not just You're not still going to be a clinician but but it looks different. Now, because you're a doctoral student, you're in your, your mindset, don't think that it's changed quite a bit in that and so it has been neat. Watching the whole process and CNS appreciate you kind of know coming in and sitting in with me today and talk her through this and, and I'm looking forward to having you back one of these days when you're officially a Dr. Helen Jennings. Good. So I really appreciate you being with me today. And I hope that the information we talked about today will be encouraging to those who are looking at looking at doctoral programs that this this will resonate with them. So I appreciate you today.
Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed talking
to you. It's good to see you. You too.
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