Faculty Spotlight featuring Professor Seth Hayden

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Jennifer M.:Hello, I would like to start by thanking you for joining us for Wake Forest University’s Online Master of Art In Counseling and Human Services Webinar Series. During this webcast, you will have a chance to hear from one of our professors speak about a course they teach within the Master of Art in Counseling and Human Services program. My name is Jennifer Majczan, and I am an Enrollment Advisor in the Graduate Admissions Office. Our faculty presenter today is Assistant Professor and Clinical Mental Health Program Coordinator, Seth Hayden. Thank you, professor, for taking the time to speak to us about the career counseling course.


Seth Hayden:You’re welcome, Jennifer. Thank you. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk specifically about one of the courses that I teach at Wake Forest. It’s the Career Development and Counseling Course, which is a core requirement for all students, regardless of whether you’re thinking about the school counseling track or the clinical mental health track, everyone has to take this course. And it’s got a long history within the counseling profession in terms of a focus on career development.


Just to expand a little bit on who I am. So, I teach this course but I also have a history of providing career services and also research this topic specifically. Even more specifically, the connection between career and mental health is a big aspect of my focus. And I think that’s pretty common within our faculty, when we teach courses, that generally we have some expertise and/or experience with the various topics in which we teach.


So, this course focuses on career development and how it is, as counselors, that we can help people that are struggling with career concerns. So, the goals are to try to introduce you to career development as a core concern of the human experience, to introduce you to theoretically grounded approaches to assisting those with career concerns, to talk about how one provides career services in various settings such as a school, such as a community agency, higher education, and so, a lot of different kinds of domains.


It really is, I think, a very interesting course in that regard, that it’s fairly broad in its scope, but does give you specific information, to try and know how it is that you could address that kind of a concern with a client you would meet with. And the information is created for practitioners, for people who are going to actually go out into the world and use this information, which I think, again, is another common thread through a lot of our courses. So, I’m passionate about the subject matter. We’ve created the course so that it gives students tangible things they can walk away with, where, if they meet with a client who indicates, “I have a career development concern,” they’ll have some sense of how it is they could appropriately intervene.


My favorite part about teaching this course is just the development of students over the course of it. So, it’s a seven-week course, as a lot of our content courses are. Students at times will come in with the thought of, “Why is career development relevant to my work? As either a school counselor or a clinical mental health counselor?” And I love seeing eyes be opened, light bulbs go off, whatever kind of analogy indicates some new development, new awareness around the importance of this topic. And then also the very tangible exercises that we have students go through.


We have students write a career autobiography, which means they essentially tell their own career story, and then after they’ve learnt some of the theories, they apply some of those theories to their own story. Which really is interesting to see, because [inaudible 00:04:27] the application of that information to their own personal narrative is really pretty fascinating. So, we have a lot of other activities that are that way, where there’s a lot of personal reflection, but then, how do we apply the concepts that we’re learning to those personal reflections, to integrate that information?


So, again, for me, it’s the light bulbs going off, the heightened awareness around the importance of the subject matter within counseling, and then also the very personal connections the students have with the material through some of the various exercises that we engage in.


In terms of things that the students should be aware of prior to starting the program, I think that it is a counseling program, and so, there is going to be some element of knowing thyself. Because, as a counselor, it’s important that we’re aware of ourselves, our views of the world, how it is we operate, and continue our reflection as a component of that. So, as a student comes into our program, what makes us, I think, somewhat unique as opposed to other disciplines, say, if someone were going into an engineering program or something like that, is that there’s such a high level of personal reflection that occurs, really, throughout the program.


The reason for that is that it’s important for us to know ourselves that we can be in a room with someone who’s trying to figure out things for themselves. So, I think there’s a reason for it. There’s some intention to it. Also, that if you are in our program, we believe that you can be successful. So, we don’t have people in our program who we don’t believe are going to be successful. Now, most students are successful and things certainly happen, but once we have you in our program, we desire for you to succeed, and we work hard to make that happen.


So, there’s some students who I’ve encountered who wonder if this … Should they be in a program? Or, are they going to be able to do this? And I understand those kinds of questions arise, but again, if we have a student and we’ve gone through this process of having them be a part of our program, we believe they have the opportunity to be successful, and we work hard to ensure that that happens.


In terms of this course, specifically, no prior knowledge of psychology or counseling is necessary. And I know sometimes students will come in from a different background, marketing, other kinds of things that aren’t psychology related, and wonder, “Oh, am I going to be able to catch up?” Or, “Is there a steeper learning curve for me as opposed to others?” And there might be a little bit, but I honestly think that no prior knowledge of psychology or anything like that is necessary, specifically, for this course, for you to be successful. So, those are a couple of thoughts related to that.


Jennifer M.:That is, actually, something that I do speak with students on. They talk about, “Was there any required pre-reqs?” Or, “Does it help if I have previous experience?” And it’s just interesting to see how each cohort is so diverse. We have students coming into the program that might not have many years of work experience, but then we have those that have many years of work experience, but maybe not necessarily in this field. And it is interesting, you know, that students will be able to interact with so many other different individuals, and their cohorts. You oftentimes hear from students that they’re also worried about going into the online program itself, versus on a traditional campus.


Seth Hayden:Yeah, sure. Those are useful thoughts, Jennifer. Appreciate that. Yeah, I mean, I think, for me, I actually think there’s some value of diversity. So, I appreciate people who come from a psychology background. I also appreciate people who come from other disciplines, because I think there’s different ways of thinking that may emerge. There’s actually a fair amount of transferable skills that students may not be aware of that relate to being a counselor. So, recent example, one of our students — go back to marketing — had a marketing background. About to graduate from our graduate counseling program. Now, the thought is, “How do I become engaged in private practice?” Obviously, there needs to be some things done beforehand. License fees to be obtained as a counselor, to be able to engage in private practice, but if once engaged in private practice, you have to market your skills to a broader audience.


So, the hope is that students value their previous experience, whatever that may be. And at times, will start to integrate, “How is this useful?” People who come from a biology background, actually, there’s quite a bit of movement in our profession around neurological aspects of counseling and of concerns that people experience. And there’s a fair amount of that physiological focus within our profession. So, someone has a biology background might have some understanding of those concepts. So, I really do think that, you know, regardless of one’s background, there’s the opportunity for people to implement the previous understanding more so than they think.


In relation to the online program, we do try to make it as much as possible similar to the on-campus program. So, essentially, that’s one of our goals, is to try to replicate what we do on-campus in a virtual environment. It is different, so I’m not going to try and act as if they are the same. Obviously, the modality of engagement is different. It’s not sitting in a classroom. It is more of a virtual classroom. That being said, if students are engaged or motivated, take advantage of the opportunity to interact with professors, and reach out, which I really appreciate, to professors to indicate their interest in the topic that we’ve talked about or some kind of aspect of counseling in general. I was on the phone with one of our online students yesterday, who was talking about something she was interested in.


So, we are here for you, and although the course may have specific times where we’ll engage via office hours or other types of things, I encourage students to reach out. You do have to be a little self-motivated in some ways. We do our best to reach out and make ourselves available, and students, in return, I think, benefit greatly when they reach out as well. And so, yeah, I think that there is the opportunity for someone to come in to the online program and be a very competent and successful counselor, and we are here to support that process.


Jennifer M.:Okay. Great. I know you mentioned a lot of the objectives and the goals of this particular course. How will students utilize that information in practice? Either at the residencies or in the field? I know that just last week was a residency that just happened on-campus.


Seth Hayden:Yes. Well, first of all, there’s research … I have to put on my egghead hat for a second, if you’ll indulge me. I’ll try not to get too lost in this, but there’s tangible research that indicates that career development and mental health are connected. So, if you think about people operating in the world, and oftentimes when I’m talking with students, I’ll have them reflect on their own journey. When one is in pursuit of a career, that involves family, it involves how they think and feel, it involves stressors that they encounter, successes that they encounter. I mean, all of those things, I think, have connected components. They’re not, “Oh, here’s my mental health and here’s my career.” Someone’s struggling in their career, oftentimes there’s going to be struggle at home, struggles with how they think and feel about themselves kinds of things as well, and then it’s the other way as well. If someone is struggling with things in family, struggling with how they think and feel, that often can affect their career development.


And a career decision is really important, and people on this call are determining if they want to pursue this kind of a program. Well, I imagine that’s a pretty significant consideration. What is this going to look like in terms of my life? What is it going to look like in terms of my work going forward? What kind of resources are going to be needed for me to be able to do this? How is this going to affect my world? And so, if you think about it, this webinar in itself encapsulates the importance of career development. And as counselors, how is it that we effectively intervene? And so a lot of times, students will go out into their practicum, their internship, and into their professional work, and I will hear from them, “Career work is a lot of what I do. And I’ll have people come in with a mental health challenge, and we start to unpack that a little bit, and there’s a career concern somewhere in there.”


So, this course is designed for someone to understand the theories, models that can address that, and practical strategies to assist someone who is encountering that. So, I do think that is very relevant, and I think that hopefully students come away with the course, having a better understanding of it and also, again, those practical strategies to intervene.


Jennifer M.:Okay. Thank you. This concludes our Course Spotlight. Thank you so much, Professor Hayden, for taking the time to discuss the course about us. It’s really much appreciated.


Seth Hayden:You’re welcome. Thank you.


Jennifer M.:For those that may have any questions about the Online Masters in Counseling or Human Services Program, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the enrollment advisors at the Online Graduate Admissions Office. Thank you.