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Hi everyone!

I wasn't exactly sure whether to file this under Professional Studies or Social Sciences so hopefully it reaches the right people! I was just accepted into a counseling program and am having a bad case of indecision. Technically, I have about a year until I really need to declare this but since I'm trying to get work experience and hate having loose ends, I figured maybe you guys could try to help me now. The programs/careers that I'm stuck between are School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health. On the school's website, they even seem to be selling Mental Health more as they list a bunch of different options for it and only talk about the classes needed for the School Counseling page. Anyway, my issue is that I live in NJ and this is a tough area to get a job in anywhere really and schools tend to be who you know. My boyfriend works for the Board of Ed as a custodian so potential in there but who knows. What's holding me back from deciding besides potential jobs is what the actual work environments are like. My concern with school counseling is that I'll be stuck doing all administrative work and barely get to interact with students other than college admissions and class schedules if I'm working in a high school. I want to actually be able to counsel people and feel like I reached them.

Moving on to Mental Health, what is it like to work in this field? How stressful is it?How difficult would it be for me to find a job being my Bachelor's is actually in English? I currently volunteer for a crisis hotline and am trying to get some work experience (though I'm not sure where the best place to go with no experience is) but I know some places may be weary to hire someone who didn't have an undergrad degree in a social science. Sorry for rambling everyone, just trying to figure things out!

Edited by inkweaver845

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Hi inkweaver :)

I salute you for choosing to complete your study in something that you have passion for, even if it's different from your BA specialization. I'm in your same league, as my BA & MS are in political science, & now I want to complete my PhD as interdisciplinary with anthropology, psychology, & cliodynamics. Perhaps I'm not the best to give you advice regarding your question, because I haven't got experience in either school counseling nor clinical mental health.

Nevertheless, I'd like to give you some ideas. I think the first thing you may think about is what your passion lies when counseling people (which, I think, is more important than job availability, because loving what you do will greatly relieve the stress & problems that you'll face in your every-day job, THAT is something I definitely know from experience! ;) ). So determine which age group you have passion for counseling: children, adolescents, or adults - whether you like counseling in educational/studying issues or psychological health problems - what group of people would you be more interested in counseling (ex., if you like counseling children, do you prefer regular children, children with mental/psychological problems or gifted children in special education institutions, orphans, refugees, children of different races, etc.), because this will make you focus more on the subjects that you take & the internships & volunteering experience that you apply for (besides schools & clinics, you have options of orphanages, international organizations offering assistance to refugees & displaces people, special education institutions, etc.... the globe is open for your imagination!).

Also, you can go to all the above mentioned places, talk to psychologists there, & get their perspective about their work in this place, who they deal with everyday, & what issues they tackle... You have a whole year, so plenty of time to visit some schools, clinics, institutions, & international organizations.

If you're still undetermined, you can apply for a brief internship in some of those places to compare the work environment in each.

I think it's also important to compare between the courses that each specialization offers, & the research interests of the professors of each specialization, & see which bundle of courses/research are more aligned with the age / group / issues you are more interested in working with in your life.

Besides, of course, seeking advice from the career counseling office & the alumni network of the department ^_^

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