In the past few positions I have held, one of my responsibilities has been recruiting, interviewing, and hiring therapists for various programs. The realities of community mental health centers and their operating budgets mean that the majority of these candidates are recent graduates from their Masters programs. Over the past seven years, I have met many men and women this way, and have selected some of them for positions.
Through this process I have learned that I should trust my instincts. The skill set needed to succeed and thrive in a job where you work to help people who sometimes don’t really want help (but yet somehow make them think it was all their idea to begin with), and where you have to go to their homes to do it (where often they are not present for your scheduled appointment), and where sometimes at the end of the day you are left feeling more like you are living the life of a mythological character rather than a professional therapist is varied. Being a little nuts helps. Being really flexible and open to new experiences is important. Being OK with using a lot of public bathrooms on the road is a necessity. These are hard things to assess in an interview, though if someone is really nuts quite a bit of that peeks through early on. (I am a therapist myself after all – I am trained to spot this).
What my instincts have told me is that people who are like me do well in jobs like these. “Like me” is a pretty varied skill set as well. Quirky sense of humor helps. Relentless optimism about the amount of impossible things one can do in a day is important. Being OK with a lot of domesticated animals crawling all over you is a necessity.
It is also essential that someone come into a job like this willing to learn new things. As a supervisor, it is a challenge to try to help people learn things who aren’t open to learning them, while they are trying to help people who don’t really want help…you see how it goes.
Today I was able to offer a position to a woman who meets all of the above criteria. She is a lovely, intelligent, passionate young professional who will be a great addition to the team. In addition to that, she has shown herself to be conscientious, professional, and unfazed by the things she has heard about our experiences in the field. Her enthusiasm about accepting the job to work with us was a little catching, and through it I was able to connect myself back to the time in my life when I was in her shoes. It’s nice to have those sparks once in a while that reignite your interest in the pursuits you have chosen.
In addition to that, it made me think about the wonderful clinician I had as my first field supervisor, and how much I absorbed from her about clinical skills, effective management style, and how to find the best public restrooms. We are still friends today even though our career paths have led us in separate geographical directions, and my experiences today made me think that I should acknowledge her positive influence on my life in some way. I am happy to be a part of the process for the clinicians I have supervised, and I hope that I can be a positive influence for them.
So, Fabulous Thing #81: Reconnecting to my chosen field by remembering where and who I was when I started out.