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Apr 15, 2013

Applying to the State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors: My Misadventures

After one Army tour in Afghanistan and three years working at the Pentagon and the FBI, I’m finally back in the great state of Texas. Home sweet home! I’m spending time with family and old friends again. Excited to start my life in Dallas. Happy to be only months away from my PhD. I’ve been invited to join the most amazing DFW counselors at the LifeWorks Group. I’m can’t wait to meet my first new client…but I’m stuck waiting on the state licensing board. Oh yeah…that.

I must admit, getting my application packet together for the Texas State Board of Examiners was not as much of a pain as it was back when I was applying for my Top Secret security clearance. But there is still a lot to do to get that license! It’s time-consuming to get everything together and put into that packet. I’ve heard nightmares about packets being delayed or even rejected due to a missing item. I do NOT want to be that person. I want my license granted ASAP, I’ve got clients to see and things to do!

So I’m going to share a bit of my journey to new state licensure with you, in hopes that it might help you avoid some of my mistakes. Hopefully this will allow you to not waste ANY of your precious time on getting your application submitted as quickly as possible.

So on Thursday of last week I had an appointment to meet with my new supervisor and during that meeting I’d receive the final item needed to complete my packet: The supervisor agreement form. Once I had that, I would be ready to put the thick little stack of papers into the mail and off it would go to the licensing authority.

I met with my supervisor and after our meeting he signed the form I brought with me and I went about my day. I was in the middle of apartment hunting, so had some appointments and I was planning on mailing my packet the following day. I was so smug. I thought I had all my required documents securely placed in my manila folder, all neat and organized. I even made a cover sheet listing the order of the items with a brief explanation of each.

The following day, I stopped off at a Kinko’s FEDEX location to mail my packet to the licensing authority in Austin. I wanted to overnight it and track it in order to satisfy my OCD tendencies. I parked the car, grabbed my purse and my packet, and went in to get the job done.

On my way to the counter, I glimpsed the computer stations to my left and felt the sudden urge to check online just ONE last time to make sure I had every required document in my envelope. I glanced back at the line at the counter to see that it was several people deep. I took this as a sign from God that I should check the website again. Who am I to argue a prompting from the Lord? So, to be safe (and ok, I admit it, partially to satisfy my OCD tendencies), I turned left instead of right and parked myself at the closest computer.

I sat down, fed my credit card to the reader, and went to the Texas State Board’s website. I looked over the list on the page and went through my packet. Check, check…got that…yup, there’s that form…ok, check. Then I saw a link I maybe hadn’t clicked before…hold up, had I seen this one before? Just to be safe I clicked it. As I looked at the PDF file that opened before me I thought, “What? Where did this checklist come from?” And, “What? That wasn’t on the other list!” And then, “Oh no, I don’t have a copy of my supervisor’s license in my packet!” And this was on a Friday. Yup, a Friday afternoon. Supervisor was gone for the day. So I had to wait until Monday to get a copy of his license.

Monday we had a staff meeting that was in the afternoon and afterward I copied my supervisor’s license for my packet and off I was to Kinko’s again. This time I KNEW my packet was ready to go. I waited IMpatiently in line at the counter…like I was holding a hot potato or a ticking bomb or something. I couldn’t wait to hand off that sucker.

I explained that I wanted overnight, tracked service and the lady handed me an envelope to stick mine in, which I did, and a label to fill out, which I did. She in the meantime had walked away and I wanted to yell after her, “Wait, don’t go, this will only take a second!” But I instead I did the staring thing the moment I was done writing on the label, hoping to make eye contact the moment she looked back at me to see if I was ready. But humans are easily distracted, so I soon was just staring at her doing other non-Natosha work-related tasks.

Finally I worked up the nerve to go against my Southern manners and I said, “Excuse me, I’m ready now.” Which made her look up as though she totally had forgotten I existed at her counter. That was fine by me, I just wanted her to take the packet and mail it. She strolled over to the cash register at true turtle speed and reached for the freshly-sealed, labeled envelope. And then she put on a disapproving expression and said to me, “Oh this is a P.O. box. We don’t deliver to P.O. boxes.” What?! She may as well have told me my dog just died. I couldn’t believe it. I was devastated.

After asking several idiotic questions, I gave up. I left the line, sad little packet in hand. I went to the website and searched for another “physical address” to no avail. I went back to my car utterly disappointed to still be carrying that same application packet. Lesson learned: Look at EVERY single word on website, EVERY bulleted list, EVERY disorganized paragraph to ensure I have each and every thing.

So the clock’s been ticking since Tuesday morning at 10am when I dropped off my priority envelope with my little hometown’s friendly U.S. postmaster, Susan. And how many times have I checked my status on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, you ask? Only four so far. You know, to be sure they didn’t forget to send me an important email update. My status has shown as “Approved” since the moment I submitted the online portion of the application last week but I am quite aware that I am not “Approved” just yet. It’s like a cruel joke to put the very beginning status as “Approved.”

So I am waiting, hoping I crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s in my application packet. I’m hoping to beat the standing record of my friend and colleague, Brittne, because that would mean I could begin seeing clients within the next two weeks. Fingers crossed. I’ll let y’all know how it goes! And good luck if you too are trying to submit your very own licensing application packet.
Natosha Monroe is a counselor and PhD candidate passionate about increasing Troop access to counseling services. Her blog contents are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense in any way.

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