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Interview with Jennifer See, Licensed Professional Counselor & Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor

Jennifer See is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) who takes a solutions-focused approach to therapy. She is based in San Antonio, Texas and works with tweens, teens, and adults. Her practice is flexible: in addition to traditional office-based therapy she offers distance counseling as well as in-home and “walk and talk” therapy sessions.

1. Your first career was as a marketer and writer, and you mention on your website how in this career you noticed how many people were looking for help with personal issues–can you explain to us the path you took to transition to counseling?

I was a military spouse and doing a lot of freelance writing for military publications and websites. I had to talk to many people, and I found that they were always telling me about their lives beyond the article or piece I was writing. Even at parties, people tended to open up to me about their problems or challenges. At one point I thought…why not get paid for doing this? So at age 39, I went back to graduate school and started on this path.

2. Do you have any “favorite” questions that you typically ask new clients to start a dialogue?

One of my favorite questions in my intake is to ask if they were “voluntold” to be at the appointment. It’s an ice-breaker, but also a way for me to gauge if they came to see me because they want to be in therapy, or because someone else wants them to be in therapy.

3. In addition to traditional face-to-face counseling, you offer telephonic and distance video counseling. What are some challenges in these more “separated” counseling mediums, and how do you respond to these?

Not everyone is comfortable with a telephonic or video session when I mention it. But I find that these mediums can break down a lot of barriers for people, the biggest ones being access to care, limited transportation, or childcare. It’s also a great way for me to work around people’s busy schedules. I’ve “seen” clients on their business trips, vacations…or I’ve seen couples in their homes during kids’ naptimes or after they’ve put them to bed.

4. On your blog, you mention that the last year has seen your practice growing exponentially–but sometimes at the expense of your personal mental health. If you could go back in time, what would you tell the earlier version of yourself to make this growth process smoother for all involved?

Oh gosh, I would tell myself so many things…that boundaries are ok…that you probably can’t help everyone with all their problems…that it’s ok to say no…and to stop agreeing to 9:00 PM appointments!!! It’s really important for therapists to take care of themselves. We are notoriously great at insisting our clients take care of themselves, and we constantly preach “self-care,” but we are horrible at following our own advice! Getting enough sleep and exercise and not answering my phone 24/7 has made a huge difference for me.

5. Knowing what you know now, are there any subject areas outside of the counseling course core that you would particularly recommend that future counselors study while they’re still in school?

I think there are many things that counselors can study, especially if they want to go into private practice. Read up on entrepreneurship and what it means to own a small business. I love having a private practice, but it’s certainly not for everyone. I’m not sure the schools are preparing counselors enough for what it looks like in the “real” counseling world, especially in the realm of private practice.

6. Is there any further advice that you would like to share?

The counseling world is constantly evolving and changing, and I think the best counselors I know keep up with the changes. Also, find a mentor in the field that has been practicing for a long time. The mentors that I have are so important to me and have been crucial to helping me through some tough times and situations.

Also–don’t let fear hold you back!!! The counseling field has so many opportunities! I just facilitated a three-day Motivational Interviewing training for a large group in Houston and I also do some freelance writing about mental health and substance use. I like to diversify myself and to get myself out of the “chair” every now and then. If you want to start a private practice, I highly suggest doing it. I wanted to start one about three years before I actually did it, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!

Thanks to Jennifer for sharing her thoughts with us! You can read more of her advice and thoughts on counseling practice on her blog at Jennifer See, LPC Counseling.