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  1. Hi, all. I know this is a looong explanation; please bear with me, because I desperately need advice! **Background: Got BA in Psych, then worked as a community support provider for a year at a MHC for adults with mental illness. Fall 2016, I applied for a MSW program and got in. I've been at school for 4 weeks (I'm no longer at the job). Problem: Up until spring of 2017, which was AFTER my program accepted me, I wanted to be a therapist. I am introverted but (IMO) good at helping people work through their problems, and I generally enjoy doing so. But I often found my MHC job to be incredibly stressful, and many of my therapist coworkers seemed overwhelmed, stressed, and didn't particularly like their jobs. A couple quit or moved departments because of the huge caseloads, bunches of paperwork, and stress of the job (seemed like a bad sign). However, I had already formally decided to go to school, so I continued with that plan. Honestly, I loved and cared about my clients, but I found the constant worries of suicide (and homicide) were too emotionally taxing for me despite being fairly successful at my job. After the first half year, I started dreading work because I'd worry so much, in spite of my previous training. I found it difficult to have the energy to do anything after work. Self-care and coping skills helped somewhat, but I still did not often look forward to my job. This intensely concerned me, because I want to have a career that helps people, but one that I can also enjoy (aka stress is manageable) and that is sustainable for me long-term. My professors seem to think I just need better coping skills, but I'm not sure that the intensity of SMI/crisis clinical work is for me. But, it's hard to give up my dream of therapy. I don't want to continue with my MSW for no reason, but I don't want to give up on it too early, either. I have faith there could be a clinical career out there that fits me. Thus, I was thinking I could: 1. Shift my career focus to addressing people's general life problems ("counseling"?), not geared toward SMI. Sort of like counseling psych v. clinical psych. I thought this might decrease the number of crisis situations that always sent me into an internal tizzy. But is this kind of work even possible for a SWer to obtain when just starting out-- or even in the future afterward? 2. EAP counseling, because it seems to me this is also more life-problem and not crisis/SMI based, and I could merge my Psych and Business interests. But it appears difficult to break into that field. Am I being unrealistic in hoping to do more "general counseling" or EAP type work? Should I go find something more "behind the scenes" to do with my MSW? (I've thought of grant writing or program planning, but have no current experience there.) TL;DR : Find working with/counseling SMI/crisis clients very stressful- wondering if more general counseling about life issues, or EAP careers, are realistic and less stressful for a future entry-level MSW grad. Desire to help others while moderating own stress level for more sustainable career. Willing to consider other options if suggested.
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