WFU Changing Lives: How You Can Help Others in Need

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If you’re looking to better understand how WFU’s MAC program can help you in your journey to becoming a qualified Professional Counselor, then this live webcast is designed for you. During this webcast, we highlight how you can change lives with your degree and answer any program specific questions.

Video Transcription:

Adam Hanna: Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us. We are going to wait just a few more moments to let the final few folks trickle in and then we’ll get started. But, thank you for joining us today and we’ll get started here in just about two or three minutes.

Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us. We’re gonna go ahead and get started today. My name is Adam Hanna and I will be your moderator today. I do wanna start by thanking you all for joining us for our Wake Forest University making a difference webcast, hosted by our online enrollment advisors.

Before we get started, I would like to cover a few housekeeping items. In order to minimize background noise, this presentation is in broadcast only mode. So you can hear us, but we cannot hear you. Feel free to type in any questions in the Q&A box to the left of your screen at any time during the presentation, and we will do our best to answer those questions during the Q&A session at the end of the webcast.

If we are unable to answer your question today, an advisor from our office will follow up from you after the presentation. Finally, we are recording the webcast today, and it will be emailed to you once it is available. Now, I’d like to turn it over to our enrollment advisor, Dion Travers.

Dion Travers: Hello and good afternoon everyone. My name is Dion Travers and I’m an enrollment advisor for the online counseling program. I’d like to introduce my presenters for today. My fellow online enrollment advisors are Beth Emperor, DeAndra Loggins and senior advisor Robin Shurbet.

During this 30-minute presentation, we will discuss how you can make a difference in the lives of others as a professional counselor. We will discuss who you will help, where in terms of settings and which you can serve clients, and how you will be serving these clients. I will now turn it over to enrollment advisor, Beth Emperor, who will talk about the clients you will serve. Beth?

Beth Emperor: Thank you Dion and welcome everyone. As a professional counselor, you will have people come to you from all walks of life, and there are many people waiting for your help. We know from research, that traumatic or difficult events do not necessarily lead to incapacitating problems that can also create growth and learning. So, who are the people waiting for your help as a professional counselor? There are those who are experiencing trauma. For example, as we’re seeing recently in the news with natural disasters. Those going through a life change. And this could be good or bad.

This could involve moving, marriage, parenting, illness or a new job. Those who are struggling with additions, whether it’s through drugs, alcohol or gambling abuse. Those seeking marriage or family counseling. Active and military veterans and their families. Stress management. Those who are dealing with sexual identity. Perhaps pain management, rehabilitation counseling and that could involve vocational or emotional. Spiritual guidance and anxiety and depression. And by no means is this an exhausted list.

A great way to understand the day in the life of a professional counselor is to spend some time with them. I will now turn this information over to DeAndra who will expand on the settings where you may work.

DeAndra Loggins: Thank you Beth. As a professional counselor, you can work in a variety of settings. This slide shows you just a few of the many settings a professional counselor can work. For example, in hospitals, some counselors are hired to assist patients overcome various psychological and behavioral issues, while others may specifically focus on the rehabilitation of a hospital patient.

At a mental health facility or agency, a professional counselor can provide one-on-one treatment or whole group therapy sessions. Professionals with a graduate degree in counseling are often employed at mental health facilities, often times according to their specialty. For example, community counselors are hired at localized mental health agencies to assist a local population interact with community leaders and bridge the gap between support services found in surrounding areas.

So, whether you become a family marriage counselor, a substance abuse counselor or even a crisis counselor, some professional counselors choose to go into private practice. After fully completing the requirements for licensure, individuals in this career field have the option of venturing out on their own. This is a great choice for individuals who enjoy being their own boss.

In conclusion, the number of places that a graduate with a counseling degree can work is wide ranging. And the above mentioned employment opportunities are non-exhaustive. Depending on a professional’s level of education, counselors are also hired at insurance companies, private government agencies, summer camps, law offices and even Fortune 500 companies. Now, I will hand it over to Ms. Robin Shurbet, who happens to be a licensed professional clinical counselor. Robin will speak on how counselors can change lives.

Robin Shurbet: Thank you DeAndra and good afternoon everybody. Thank you for attending. So, now that you have heard not only about the variety of issues you can help someone work with as Beth mentioned as a professional counselor, as well as the different settings you can work in as DeAndra mentioned, I would like to share with you how you will be changing lives.

It takes a special person and a set of skills to do this work. Wake Forest University will not only prepare you with a masters of arts in counseling, but you will be prepared to sit for the licensure exam in your state once complete. As a licensed professional clinical counselor myself, having worked in the field for over 25 years, I would like to share some insights.

The truth is, humans have been dealing with crises, navigating severe social problems and finding solutions to life’s problems long before the advent of psychotherapy. That said, unfortunately, as long as there are people who are suffering, the need for professional counselors will exist. As you know, many resources are available to a person experiencing emotional distress. For example, the friendly support of friends, your peers, family members, clergy, __________ health books, healthy exercise and independent coping. That said, psychotherapy or professional clinical counseling is just another option.

Professional counseling aims to improve an individual’s wellbeing and mental health in order to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, emotions and to improve and enhance relationships and social skills. In order for me to explain how you can make a difference in the lives of others as a professional counselor, I will start with the skills you will need in order to do so. These skills are necessary, whether you work with children, teens, couples, adults, seniors, regardless of the population or setting you will eventually work with.

And the list that I’m going to talk about is just some of the skills you will need. So, to get started, a professional counselor should possess sophisticated interpersonal skills. What does this look like? Effective counselors are able to express themselves well. They have the ability to sense what other people are thinking and feeling. When you relate to your clients, you will need to show warmth, acceptance, empathy and a focus on others. When clients are sharing about their experiences, it’s important that you are interested and that you show that you are understanding and trying to learn how they feel. The skills needed to do this include empathy, listening skills, social and communication skills, boundary setting and critical thinking.

Another skillset you will need to have is the ability to help people feel that you can be trusted. Generally speaking, people can usually determine whether or not they can trust someone within a few minutes after meeting them. As an effective counselor, you can demonstrate this many ways. This can be accomplished by the tone of the voice you use, your posture, reflection, active listening and non-verbal body language. Your verbal communication skills are just as important as your non-verbal communication.

Another skillset you will need is the ability to establish a relationship. One of the strongest predictors of a good therapeutic outcome is the feeling that your clients are in a partnership with you. This is commonly referred to as the therapeutic alliance. Establishing a therapeutic relationship is a vital step in the recovery process and for the relationship to be productive, trust is key. A person seeking a counselor, must trust that his or her therapist has the knowledge, skillset and desire to provide treatment. And this can be conveyed a number of ways.

For example, setting good boundaries. Boundaries are a critical aspect of any effective client counselor relationship. They set the structure for the relationship and provide a consistent framework for the counseling process. A healthy therapeutic relationship will place the client’s needs first and foremost and are at the core of any professional practice.

Another skillset you will learn in graduate school and through practice is assessment. Assessment is the ability to provide an explanation of symptoms and adapt this explanation as people heal and circumstances change. The practice of assessment entails the collection of information in order to identify, analyze, evaluate and address the problems, issues and circumstances clients bring into the counseling relationship. Assessment is used as a basis for identifying problems and planning interventions. Our clients wanna know why they are experiencing their symptoms. Effective counselors can provide explanations that our clients can understand.

Another important skillset is the ability to inspire through hope and optimism. Restoring courage and hope is an important aspect of counseling. Hope is a terrific motivator. I found this quote by an unknown author that I’d like to share. A rainbow is a prism that sends shards of multi-colored light in various directions. It lifts our spirits and makes us think of what is possible. So, this is hope. Personal rainbow of the mind.

The feeling we convey as counselors to our clients that they’re experience in counseling is going to work is often a large part of the equation in a successful treatment. Effective counselors know how to strike a balance between realism and hope. As a counselor, you will inspire others to believe and trust that they can get better. If you can be a counselor who knows how to inspire people to feel hopeful, I promise you, your clients will benefit more from treatment.

Another critical skillset is understanding differences in culture. We call this multi-cultural awareness. Counselors need to be aware of their own ethnicity and how it influences their interactions with other cultural groups. Attitudes towards seeking help may vary from different ethnic group to another. Multi-cultural awareness is an understanding, sensitivity and appreciation of the history, values, experiences and lifestyles of many diverse groups. These groups may include differences in race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disabilities or age. Understanding these differences is a critical part of the therapeutic process. Asking your client to explain from their perspective is a great way to build a stronger therapeutic alliance.

What does this mean for you? It’s important to understand the issues and complexities related to gender, race, sexual orientation, religion and cultural background. You will not know everything. It’s okay. Being open, however, asking questions and learning is a part of the process. An important note, you do have to have an awareness of yourself and understand your own biases and attitudes as this will be the first step to being open to those who are different than yourself.

This leads to my next skillset of an effective counselor: self-awareness and insight. If we’ve spoken on the phone before, then you know, as I say this often to potential students, it is critical to know where you end and where your clients begin. An effective therapist is self-aware and is able to separate his or her own issues from those of their clients. Troy actually coined the term countertransference. And you’ll learn more about that in your study.

It is important for therapists to be able to identify and manage their responses to the issues their clients present to them. What does this mean for you? Be aware of the triggers that you might be experiencing as a result of the content your clients are sharing with you. Make sure you have good clinical supervision. It’s natural and it’s perfectly okay to have reactions, we’re human. The reactions will occur internally. As long as you recognize and talk it through with a clinical supervisor or clinical counterpart, you can be effective.

And finally, involvement in continued training and education. Licensed mental health professionals must participate in continuing education to maintain their credentials. They are required by law to seek and complete this training. So to conclude, we’ve covered a lot of ground here. Beth addressed the type of issues you will encounter as a professional counselor. DeAndra talked about some of the settings you could potentially work in and I addressed from my experience how you will make a difference in the lives of others through a set of skills you will obtain throughout your counseling program.

Not only will the masters of arts and counseling program prepare you academically, but it will give you the opportunity to apply your skills in your final year. As you know, or may not know, in your final year, you will start with a 200 hour practicum where you will shadow a professional counselor. Finally, you will be placed into a clinical setting in order to complete a 600 hour internship. During this internship, you will provide professional counseling under clinical supervision. This experience, in addition to the completion of your master’s degree will help you prepare for your clinical license exam once you have graduated and applied for licensure in your state. Thank you.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. So that does conclude our overall presentation, but we do wanna take some time to help answer any different questions you may have from the presentation today. So, we are going to take a few minutes to take your questions and then we’ll go ahead and get started and answer a few today. So, if you would take the time to locate the Q&A box, it should be to the left of your screen, you can enter your questions there and we’ll address them shortly.

Thank you everyone, we’ve got several questions here. We’ll go ahead and jump in. Just a reminder, a recording of this presentation will be sent once it’s available. So, do keep an eye out for that in your email. So, some of the questions we may not get to as they do specifically ask about the presentation. So, you can go back and view that, but we’ll address as many additional questions as we can.

So to jump in today, our first question is what are some of the course requirements and the timeline for completion?

Robin Shurbet: So the timeline for completion and that’s a great question thank you. The timeline for completion – it’s a three year program with your final year being your internship and practicum. That’s 800 hours spread over a year. In terms of the course requirements, and we are happy to talk about and send you that information. I’m not sure when you say course requirements if you mean requirements for the program in terms of admission. So, I’m gonna have actually one of our advisors send you the answer to that question. Thank you.

Adam Hanna: I would also like to direct everyone to the resource section located on the bottom of your screen. It does contain a program brochure. So if you are asking about the courses specifically, they are contained in the brochure. Our next question today is how can working adults complete the clinical hours required?

Robin Shurbet: Great question, thank you. How can working adults complete the clinical hours required? Well, it just so happens that as most of you know, our program is part-time. It is an extension of our campus program featuring the same curriculum and same recognized national faculty. And adults who are working can complete the clinical hours required by spreading the 800 hours over your final year. And we will work with you and your schedule. This could mean for some people finding an additional 6-8 hours a week. This could mean for others being able to do more. We will work with you in your final year based on your needs as well as the program needs to help make your clinical hours that are required in your final year as seamless as possible.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. Our next question is, how is the placement determined for the internships?

Robin Shurbet: Great question. Well, the placement determination for the internships really is a partnership between you and our clinical director in the program who oversees the clinical placements. So, one of the things we’ll do is find out what you’re interested in and where you’d like to work, what’s available in your community, the kind of population you’d like to serve and having Carla, our clinical director, who will know your needs and your desires will combine a plan in partnership with you to make good placement decisions. Thank you.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. Our next question is how many classes will be taken during a semester and how long are each semester?

Dion Travers: Great question. There are two classes per semester, however you are only taking one class at a time and each time is 7 ½ weeks long as to completion.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Dion. Our next question is if you are an out of state student, do you need to take the GRE for the application? I already have a master’s in education and education leadership.

Robin Shurbet: That’s a great question.

Beth Emperor: Which is excellent, we get this question quite often. Because this is an online program, we do work with students from all over the country. So, it’s not specific to the state that you may be from. But we do require the GRE for application. However, there is an opportunity for students if they have a completed master’s degree from an accredited institution if they have a 3.0 or higher GPA and also have the requirements for the undergraduate GPA as well. You can provide your undergraduate and graduate transcripts to your enrollment advisor and those can be reviewed for acceptance by the admissions committee. So, the waiver is not guaranteed if you have a previous master’s, but you do have the opportunity for that. We look for a combined score of 285 or higher on the GRE and a 3 or higher on the writing.

Robin Shurbet: Thank you Beth.

Adam Hanna: Thanks Beth. We do have several other questions. I know we are approaching the 30 minute mark, so if you do need to drop off, these questions will be recorded. But if you do have the time we’re gonna go ahead and try to answer a few more questions while we’ve got everyone today. So, our next question is can the practicum and/or internship be completed in a private, approved facility?

Robin Shurbet: Absolutely. It sure can. The practicum can be completed in a private approved facility. And again, you’ll work with the clinical director in the program to determine if the facility is approved. And what we’re looking for is we wanna make sure you have the right clinical supervisor with the right credentials that will supervisor your hours needed for licensure and for training purposes.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. Our next question is is a mental illness something that can benefit a counselor or can it be a hindrance to success with a client?

Robin Shurbet: That’s a great question. I’d like to be able to answer that here, but I think because of time’s sake, it would probably be best answered in an individual conversation with your advisor or with myself if you’d like. It’s a long answer and it’s a great question, but again, it’s a question that probably will require some time and I’d rather spend that time with you individually to talk about that. But we appreciate that question, thank you.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. So, just a few more questions here. Our next question is I’m a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing with four years of psychiatric and addiction nursing experience. Would I be required to take additional courses to meet entry requirements to this program?

Robin Shurbet: That’s a great question. There are no entry courses to get into the program. What we’re looking for is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, GPA of a 2.5 or higher, a particular GRE score, which we mentioned earlier, as well as the application has some processes that we require: three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, an interview with an admissions advisor and transcripts. Those are the things that will be required for admission. Courses are not requirements in bachelor’s degree or post-bachelor degree courses are not required for admission. A bachelor’s degree is. Thank you very much.

Adam Hanna: Thank you Robin. And that does wrap up our questions today. I know we had a few additional questions. We’ll make sure to send those to the correct advisor so that we can follow up accordingly so we can get you the answers as soon as possible. But before we wrap up today, do wanna go over a few additional important dates for our upcoming term. Our upcoming term is the spring 2018 semester. And that does begin January 15 as you can see.

A couple other important dates as it relates to getting started with us in the spring. Our application deadline is November 1. In addition to that, November 1 is also our GRE deadline, which means November 1 is the last day you can take the GRE. If you have any questions, please let us know in regard to those dates, but I would highly recommend getting started now so that you can work your way towards completion. It’s much easier to add those pieces slowly rather than having to meet a deadline much more quickly.

If you have any questions about deadlines, the presentation today or the program overall, please contact our enrollment advisors. You can see our enrollment advisors presented with us today, Dion Travers, Beth Emperor, DeAndra Loggins and Robin Shurbet with their extention and information on your screen. If you’re unsure of who your enrollment advisor is, please give me a call. Again, my name is Adam, I’m one of the coordinators here and I do work with all of our enrollment advisors.

I will be sending out a short survey following the presentation today. So, if there’s any feedback you have in regard to the presentation, what you would like to see for future webinars or how we can help you in learning more, please go ahead and respond to that. We do appreciate any feedback. But again, we wanna thank you for joining us for the making a difference in changing lives presentation today. Again, if you have any questions, please follow up with our enrollment advisor.