A Day In The Life Of A Mental Health Counselor

1866 words - 7 pages

It is a privilege to interview veteran therapists who are exiting the counseling arena after a long career in the profession. I was honored to shadow Lea Keylon, a seasoned counselor, who on the eve of retirement set aside time for a student interview. The enlightening interview opened my understanding to the importance of proper diagnostic coding for insurance reimbursements, the financial struggles of private practice, and the poignant effect of forensic counseling on therapist (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Lea was eager to share her counseling accounts; however, the excitement of retirement planning could be seen in her demeanor. Private practice requires self-discipline, constant research for legislative changes, peer support and consultation, time management, tenacity, and patience. The encounter with Lea impressed the importance to surround myself with colleagues that are enthusiastic about learning and continuing education opportunities, to hire assistance for time-consuming administrative task, and adequately assess a proper caseload that will sustain my counseling practice and without avoid counselor burn out (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010).

A Day in the Life of a Mental Health Counselor
I spent the day with Lea Keylon, sole owner of Keylon Counseling & Consulting in Arlington Washington (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Lea is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) performing mental health and forensic counseling services (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Over a thirty five year period, Lea worked in a variety of settings e.g., Echo Glen Children's Center (a juvenile offender detention center); Triage Supervisor for Snohomish County Crisis Line (a county emergency crisis line), Department of Social and Health Services (state social services provider), and contract work with Snohomish County Human Services for a mental health counseling position at Denney Juvenile Justice Center (a juvenile offender detention center) (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010).
Private Practice Contentment and Distress
Lea, very graciously, invited me into a very small office space. Stating that her walls are not insulated, Lea placed a white noise maker box outside of her office door to distort our conversation (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Lea said being on her own, being in total control of her business, and being able to take her business wherever she travels (by way of a cell phone) are the positives of private practice (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Conversely, Lea stated not being a part of a larger organization and financial issues as a negative of private practice (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010). Lea said, "Private practice can be very lucrative . . . but it feels very exposed, exposed to mal practice" (L. Keylon, personal communication, March 26, 2010).

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