Working Mom Transforming Career In Counseling Psychology

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As a working mother of two teenagers, Jennifer Lanciault was looking for the right time and place to transform her life and career. Dominican was right for her.

The Counseling Psychology graduate program provided the perfect opportunity for Jen to pursue her Masters of Science degree with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has found it more challenging – and rewarding  – than when she earned her MBA from the University of Maryland 23 years ago.

“When you hire someone from the Dominican MFT program, you know you are getting someone who is well trained and ready to go,” Jen says. “I love it. I get less sleep and had to drastically modify my schedule, but it’s so worth it.”

Jen’s journey to Dominican has crossed the country several times. She was a French major at Bates College in Maine before she married and moved with her husband to Seattle where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington, graduating Magna Cum Laude. After getting her MBA at the University of Maryland, Jen worked as a management consultant for Accenture and after having children she worked as a program manager at eBay, and an auditor for the City of San Jose.

It was at Accenture when Jen realized that she was better suited to being a counseling psychotherapist. But that goal had to wait while she first raised a family, became a certified yoga instructor, and explored other career options.

“I just knew that wasn’t enough. That’s when I decided to come to Dominican,” Jen says. “It was time. I was pretty much set on getting my PhD.”

A visit to the Dominican campus got her undivided attention.

“I was driving through San Rafael and all of a sudden I felt like I was in Narnia. It was so unbelievable,” Jen says. “I had such a good feeling about the campus.”

She had a better feeling after meeting with Dr. Robin Gayle, professor and chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology in the School of Health and Natural Sciences. Jen didn’t look at any other colleges.

“Robin convinced me that this would be a good path for me,” she says.  “I still might get a doctorate, but I’m glad I went this way.”

The decision to enroll at Dominican meant cutting back on teaching yoga classes and sacrificing some family time, yet Jen adjusted. Dominican is allowing her to pace herself toward a degree.

“That was a huge benefit to me and made Dominican stand out from other programs that do not allow for flexible class scheduling,” Jen says.

She came to treasure her experience on campus.

“With each new professor I met, I thought `Oh wow. They are all good’,” Jen says.

Indeed, Jen has ended up spending more time around them. She started an internship at Dominican as a counselor in University Counseling Services, which is directed by Diane Suffridge, PhD. Jen also is co-leading a mindfulness group on campus, so her yoga/meditation background comes in handy.

The master plan for Jen is to earn her MS in 3 ½ years and become certified as an MFT about the time her youngest child will be going off to college. Jen could then jump back into the corporate world. Or into private practice. Or an agency. Or work at a school. She is in no hurry.

“Now that I work here, everyone on campus I meet is so lovely,” Jen says. “I love my job.  I would just continue to work at Dominican indefinitely if I could. I love it here so much.”

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