Graduating Year: 2007
Before Dominican: BA in Distributed Studies of Psychology and Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder
Why Dominican? Personalized attention in the classroom and a small student-to-faculty ratio.
Currently: LMFT and the Assessment Specialist at Recovery Connections Center
Highlight: "At Dominican, each faculty member is able to break down scenarios and offer real life examples that fortify the learning process and make something intangible, tangible."
Small student-to-faculty ratio
I chose Dominican’s Counseling Psychology program because I was looking for personalized attention in the classroom and a small student-to-faculty ratio. I went to a very small private high school and did very well. I went to a large university and did not do so well. So I learned that I do better in a smaller learning environment. I also spoke with colleagues and friends in the field and compared their experiences at different schools—most of my colleagues seemed happiest at Dominican.
Welcoming and nurturing environment
In the program I experienced a welcoming and nurturing environment with excellent teachers who were all willing to share their hands-on experiences. I was given individual attention when needed and plenty of office hours. For example, when in struggled with trying to balance a full-time job, a relationship and a family life during my first semester, my lack of focus and attention to detail was noticed immediately. I was kindly spoken to by several teachers, including Dr. Chuck Billings. They shared their concerns and I quickly refocused to eventually become the Dr. Robert Shukraft Award recipient for Inspirational Leadership.
Faculty share their clinical experiences
The faculty’s hands-on clinical experiences helped me develop as a professional. Having the faculty share their experiences in the classroom not only gave me an eye-opener to what was ahead, but it was invigorating to hear our teachers talk about their clients and to imagine that this could be one be us. Mary, Robyn, Meg and Chuck's stories are some of my most memorable ones. These stories meant more than any fictional case or ones that we brought to the room. The faculty all had various “sayings” or “reminders” that I remember to this day.
My field placement
I did my entire field placement at Marin Services for Women as Residential Case Manager. This position included carrying a caseload of eight (sometimes ten) clients that were in residential treatment for drugs/alcohol. I met with the clients on a weekly basis and did therapeutic informed case management. I ran process, educational and family-night groups.
Everyday at MSW was challenging—working in substance abuse is very difficult. There is a fine balance between believing and rusting what the client is telling you and not being too gullible as deception can be a symptom of the disease.
Mainly, the placement was challenging because it was residential. The clients did not leave and come back once a week; they were always there. Clear and consistent boundaries, though always important, were difficult to maintain.
Though challenging, MSW was a wonderful place to gain experience in. I would say that between MSW, my education at Dominican and amazing supervision, I was prepared for my subsequent positions at Family Service Agency and Recovery Connections Center.
Post-Fieldwork and My Future Plans
Working at Family Service Agency of Marin gave me the in-the-room experience of being a therapist. I no longer had to do case management, though being resourceful, informational and helpful are skills any therapist must have. At FSA, I really grew as a therapist and a psychoanalyst, exploring in depth attachment and the relationship between therapist and client.
Currently, I am the Assessment Specialist at Recovery Connections Center and I mainly conduct assessments. I do miss the client interaction and therapy, which is why I am planning to start my private practice soon.
Lessons I have learned
These are the biggest professional lessons that I have learned in my career up to date: