Tell us a little bit about your background and your current career.
I am pursuing a career change at age 50 and couldn’t be more grateful for NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s program. At the age of 10 I proclaimed that I wanted to be a psychologist or psychiatrist when I grew up. I majored in English and Psychology in my undergraduate studies and immediately went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching English.
I was a high school English teacher for seven years and then made the choice to stay at home and raise my four children. I was actively involved in the school system and volunteered with community service programs in my town. When my youngest daughter was born, I opened a knitting store and taught both children and adults how to knit.
At age 40 I was divorced from my husband and began recovery for alcoholism. I discovered that I was able to recreate myself through helping others to heal. Having received a formal undergraduate education in psychology, I felt pursuing a career in counseling at this stage in my life would round out and complete my early academic aspirations.
I am currently a full-time student at NYU Steinhardt and completing my internship in counseling at a private practice, where I see a diversity of clients ranging in age from adolescents to adults in later life. My goal is to continue working in private practice and to also work with adolescents who have substance use and co-occurring disorders.
What made you choose the Counseling@NYU program with NYU Steinhardt?
Aside from the outstanding reputation of NYU, I was most impressed with the mental health and wellness approach the counseling program at NYU Steinhardt provides. The unique focus on wellness reflects contemporary trends in counseling and assumes a holistic approach when working with individuals. More specifically, I knew that the environment at NYU Steinhardt would be a supportive, diverse, and socially just environment.
With my desire to be an active agent of social and political change, I was confident this enthusiasm would be reflected in professors and fellow colleagues in the counseling program. And I was right! Given the opportunity to pursue an online master’s program at a prestigious, challenging, and reputable university, there was no doubt in my mind that NYU Steinhardt was the right program for me.
How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals and help you become a leader in the field?
Aside from the internship experience, which has allowed me to apply theory to practice with a diverse population, I feel as if I’ve been well informed throughout all of my courses about the various options available to those who hold a master’s in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness. My goal from the outset has been to work with adolescents who have substance use and co-occurring disorders. With my background in teaching adolescents, and my own experience in recovery from alcoholism, this master’s program will provide me with the formal training needed to pursue this goal.
I have also learned a great deal about program development and hope to implement a knitting program with adolescents. The research regarding knitting as a mindfulness-based intervention is scarce, and I hope to be a pioneer in this area. I am also grateful for the Dynamics of Vocational Development course and feel this added area of preparation will provide me with a unique perspective and edge when marketing myself as a counselor.
How would you describe your experience collaborating with classmates and attending classes in the online environment?
Though I must admit I was slightly apprehensive about an online master’s program, much of my anxiety stemmed from the lack of technological exposure in an academic setting. Without a doubt, the online experience has far exceeded my expectations, and I have nothing but positive feedback. The convenience of being able to take classes and complete asynchronous work at any time, and from nearly any location, was highly conducive to my busy lifestyle.
I have made several friends/supports from across the country, and the diversity of such is invaluable. Collaborating with classmates has been easy, and conducting counseling sessions online, though difficult to observe nonverbal language, effective. At the very least, I believe the experience of online counseling is preparing us for the current trend toward telecounseling.
How did the Counseling@NYU immersion experience and curriculum prepare you for your field practicum and internship?
The immersion experience, where we finally met those who we had developed online relationships with, was intense and memorable. The group experience, in itself, is powerful and the NYU Steinhardt weekend was one I will never forget. It not only solidified my passion for the field of counseling but prepared me for the profound impact humans have on each other, especially within our profession.
Under the guidance and direction of the outstanding faculty, we not only had the opportunity to lead the group but to participate as members as well. This unique experience fostered my confidence as one embarking on practicum and internship and also allowed me to experience what it feels like to be a client. Not only was I able to apply the theoretical knowledge about group psychotherapy in a safe and supportive environment, but I was simultaneously able to utilize and practice the many skills and interventions of counseling I had been acquiring.
The emotions experienced during this weekend ranged from joy to despair. But I was left with the overarching feeling of trust, not only within the group but in myself as a future counselor. I was able to witness the power of the group and recognized above all that my trust in the process and in the NYU Steinhardt program was valid, as my practicum and internship experience have been highly successful and rewarding.
What advice do you have for others considering Counseling@NYU?
At the time I first came across Counseling@NYU online, I simply knew that this was the right academic institution to further my career goals. I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and thus we must help others along this journey called life. If you have found yourself seriously considering this program, there is a reason you have been guided in this direction.
While I was well aware of the solid reputation of NYU, I had no idea just how much passion and purpose NYU Steinhardt would awaken in me as both a student in counseling and a 50-year-old woman. I’ve been most impressed with the online experience and am confident that my NYU Steinhardt education is the solid foundation for a successful and promising future in counseling. In our field, instinct and intuition play an integral role in the direction we take with clients. If you are considering Counseling@NYU, I encourage you to follow your inner voice and join this outstanding community who truly make a difference in how we experience this life.