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Joanne Sep 10, 2021

Finding your Niche

What area of counseling do I want to specialize in? What types of specialties are there? How do I know what is the best fit for myself? These are all questions that you as a graduate student or new professional may have asked yourself.

I recently facilitated a training via webinar with Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors on some of the many avenues available once you obtain your professional license. There are myriad considerations once licensed such as personal and professional goals, what types of settings would be more conducive to you, as well as exploring the options for work from home. What types of positions will suit my lifestyle and/or family?

When I discuss specialization with mentees, interns, and individuals who I am providing clinical supervision for, I first begin by asking, “What are your areas of interest?”  Also, what are those opportunities that you would like to try to see if you enjoy or excel in, or what client population would you like to specialize in counseling?

I have found that there are many different areas of interest. The new specialization that has recently resonated with me is Perinatal Mental Health counseling. As I have run across those postpartum mothers both in my personal life and professional space, I have become passionate about obtaining more specialized training to work both efficiently and effectively with this population. Some resources for additional training are Postpartum Support International (PSI) and Postpartum Support Virginia. It has been a sobering experience to recognize the misdiagnoses and racial disparities in treatment for women of color and the need for more specialized training. It has been exciting to build a caseload around this population and to confer with colleagues who also specialize in this area.

During this part of my journey, I have been able to find a mentor who has been a wonderful resource and has offered time to provide additional resources for me in this field of study.

Ultimately, I believe that on each and every person’s counseling journey, they should allow themselves the time and ability to continue to grow, learn, and enhance those clients’ lives that we come across. It starts with trying something new.

Joanne Thomas is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia. She has documented her journey from a Resident in Counseling to a newly licensed professional. She currently is owner of a group private practice and has a passion for working within the field of counseling while trying to bring attention to Play Therapy Interventions across the life span. Additionally, Joanne is a Registered Play Therapist concurrently working on her EMDR therapy certification with EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). 
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