We talk a lot about the free online study group for therapists on here. Why? Because it is awe-some. And, I'll be honest- it has very little to do with me!
Today, I logged into the free study group and could have cried with everything I saw on there:
- Therapists sharing their exam success and getting cheers.
- Therapists sharing failing their exam and getting support, empathy, and encouragement.
- Therapists sharing study tips and tricks.
- Therapists sharing job opportunities with one another.
- Therapists sharing important information and getting answers to specific questions that can really help them succeed!
Ultimately, it is simple a place where we've somehow attracted thousands of awesome counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers and more into one place. Everyone has the same basic goal: Help and be helpful- and it works!
It sounds silly, but my favorite example today are people sharing that there is a heating and cooling issue in one of the California testing sites. To be honest, I wouldn't have ever considered calling a testing center to find out if they were having an issue, or been prepared for it being NINETY degrees in a professional testing center!
I'd be prepared with warm clothes for the traditional ice box that is testing centers- wouldn't you? But, several people have shared that this has been an issue for several weeks, people have dressed in summer clothes (in the Fall) just in case- and some have been able to make the determination to drive a little farther to take their exam so they could be more comfortable.
Those little gems make me SO happy! The study group that I started out of my own selfish needs back in 2005 is more than I ever imagined, and here it is 10 years later provided support and encouragement to people who are looking for study materials, therapists who have failed the written licensing exam and don't know what to do, and therapists who just need a community to keep them inspired!
How are you creating community in your life? How are you being helpful? Where are you getting help? Sign up for the free online study group today if you need some awesome community!
So let's talk about the 5 steps to building community as a pre-licensed therapist. Realize that the work you do NOW to build an awesome community- will also build up your professional reputation and help you when you start a counseling practice!
- Be on the lookout for a great community. Look, search, and be dogged about finding people you can trust to connect with.
- Start with clear boundaries as you watch and learn the culture of the group, and determine how safe it is to be "real" in the group (online or offline).
- As you find safe places, be bold, brave, and authentic!
- Be a safe person for other people- hold what people tell you in confidence, be helpful, empathetic, and model what you'd want from others.
- Don't be afraid to "keep looking" if your first attempts at community building lead to some disappointments.
Let's create more community! That is how we are therapists grow, develop, and stay inspired (just like we did in grad school!). Share your ideas for creating great community below!
p.s. I'll be in Seattle, LA, and San Diego in November, and have free trainings every month on all aspects of starting a counseling practice. Check out the upcoming events here.