Dear Dr. Romance:
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I am a 25 year old M.A. student from the Middle East. This year is my final year to have my M.A. degree as a Family specialist to become a family counselor. I saw many things you wrote online as a family and couple therapists and i Loved them all! I was wondering if you could direct me and hear what you have to suggest that I should do after my Masters. Which courses or degrees are best for me to take more to have a wide experience as a family specialist .. And I am considering a PhD. program, which program you would suggest the most? What is your PhD. was about? Thank you for your time I would really appreciate it if you could give me answers
Congratulations on almost completing your Masters. I know how much work that takes. I have no information about licensing in the Middle East. When I got my Masters, I was required to have 3,000 hours of counseling under supervision, and then I sat for a California licensing exam, which I passed in 1978. That gave me a license to work as a Marriage, Family Therapist, or psychotherapist. I began a private practice, which I'm still doing today. In 1987, I went back and got a PhD.
If you want to work as a therapist in your own country, and they have licensing, I suggest you go to the licensing board there to find out their requirements and accepted schools. The best thing you can do is begin doing therapy -- as in intern, if that is what your country requires. You'll learn far more on the job than in school.
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Find a therapist that you admire and want to learn from, and see if you can work in that practice, under the supervision of that therapist. Get started as soon as possible (if you haven't already) The only way to learn therapy is therapy begins with the students practicing on each other, and then observing group therapy, then doig group therapy and then individual therapy. What you learn in class is helpful, but therapy is an art you can only learn by practicing. Find a professional clinician's course taught independently by a therapist you respect. "Ten Things People Don’t Know about Therapy" and "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" will give you some insight.
Here are the guidelines I use when teaching students:
1. Make sure you are effective with clients. Clients who get better are very motivating. It’s more important to help clients heal old trauma then to adhere to a theoretical base.
2.Work from your heart – trust yourself and your intuition. If you guess wrong, just accept it and go on. In the end, you have to do therapy your own way. Theories and studies are helpful, but not if they hamper your own style.