Almost seven years ago I took my first classes in Pastoral Counseling and in Family Systems. I was working as a debt collector at a check collecting agency (now out of business; thank you Mitt Romney). They had tuition reimbursement, making the possibility of going back to school a reality. I knew I wanted some sort of counseling program, stumbled on the Converse College website, and knew what I needed to do.
It's been a tough journey. Long days and longer nights. Job changes. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work, seeing clients in the afternoons and taking classes at night. Going to bed at 9:30 and getting up the next morning to do the same. I finished classes, passed the licensure exam on the first attempt, and completed my internship/supervision at Safe Homes Rape Crisis Coalition. It has been a journey of personal and professional development. And unlike many of my peers, I have a job in my field, even if I am still getting up at 3:30 in the morning.
As of this past weekend, I completed all requirements and have now been fully licensed. I don't have immediate plans to change jobs and discard the oddball hours. Jobs in the counseling/therapy field a few and hard to come by. I've been "promoted" to the supervisory committee at work (meaning I can sign off on treatment plans) and was rewarded with a modest pay raise, which is more than my peers working for the state.
And here I am exhausted. I look forward to the winter months for healing, sleep, recovery. Come spring, I look forward to exploring the beginnings of the next journey. The seminary at Chapel Hill has a M.Div program that I am seriously considering. I think I want to start gently, though. They also have a class on Pagan Elders that focuses on Starhawk that is not toward a degree. I want to start there. I may have found my way professionally, but my spiritual life needs some serious nurturing.
I was also fascinated to see they have a degree in Pastoral Counseling for pagan; it's systemic. It looks like they borrowed heavily from the family systems world that I have already trained in. That is awesome. It looks like a place I will fit into nicely.