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  • Deanna Ball

Am I a Good Therapist?

Am I a good therapist? Maybe? I know I need work, but don't we all. Am I the best? Probably not, but I try. I am human, I make mistakes, I'm not perfect, my life is not all figured out. That is all ok. What I am is; real! If you want someone to tell you like it is, I am down for that. I don't sugar coat a whole lot, if at all. I do try to have tact, but sometimes the words just bypass my brain and fall out of my mouth. I do need a filter replacement, but I don't have time to shop for one.

I stumbled upon counseling as a career. I actually tried not to do it, but it kept coming back like a bad habit. In 1993, yes back in olden times, I started out in a program to become a drug counselor because I only needed an associate's degree and it would be a fast track to a job; I was a young mother of 2 and a wife. I quickly realized in this program that I wouldn't get very far with an AS so I dropped out of the program and just got the degree in general studies and went on to get my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology; surely I could get a better job with a BS than I could get with an AAS. Boy was a wrong; the only thing that helped me out was if I had applied for a job and it says Bachelor's degree required. It's now 1997, I graduated and then 2 weeks later my divorce was final; about 6 months later, I moved from my rural town in south Texas to Austin. Ok, now I will find a job, right? Not exactly.

I worked a lot of temp jobs my Bachelor's degree helped there. I picked up a couple of jobs with the state, and I sorta needed a bit of psychology for both but no I wasn't really doing what I wanted to do, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I worked for 6 months as an LCDC (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) intern in 1999 and stated NO WAY!!! I quit that pretty quickly. I took that job because at that time the laws had changed in Texas and I think its pretty much still the same. If you had a Bachelors in a social science you could forgo the classroom work, do the internship and take the test and BAM! you get your license. I went back to school to get my teaching certification and did well in school, but the testing. I am horrible at taking standardized testing and I bombed. When I say bombed I mean BOMBED!!! like hazmat suit bombed. Now what?!? I have all the education to be a teacher, I have a pretty much useless bachelor and associate degrees... then I saw the ad, Wanted LCDC Intern! Did I really want to try and do this again? Maybe it was the job I was at that I didn't like, not the work. I applied and became yet again an LCDC Intern.

It's now 2001, I got the job!!! I was working in an criminal justice program as an addiction counselor. I didn't know what I was doing. I grew up in a house with addiction, but I wasn't an addict myself. These people are going to chew me up and spit me out. Well needless to say I got munched on at first. I was buying what they were selling. I believed just about everything that they said. What did I know? I never had even seen what heroin or crack looked like. Meth? What's that? When I say I didn't know anything, I didn't. But boy did I learn quickly!!! I learned that I was being conned, manipulated, and laughed at because they got one over me. In 2004, I tested for my license. That was brutal, at the time you had the written exam, but you also had a oral exam. That was a beast. But I passed and was licensed. I worked for that company for 4 years, I learned it's ok not to have all the answers, its ok to not know everything and sometimes you can learn from your clients. I learned A LOT!!! I gave my client's HOPE and the gave me KNOWLEDGE. With my client's we laughed, we cried, we fought, we supported. It was a great experience for me. I went on to work in an IOP (Intensive Outpatient) program and got to supervise grad students getting their LMSW all the while I was an LCDC with a Bachelor's Degree. I finally convinced myself it's time to go back to school to get my Master's Degree and I started in 2009, in that time I had worked in a few IOP programs, worked in methadone clinics and even a male prison. Every one of those jobs I had working with the many different people I gained so much from my clients.

Working with addicts who are mandated to treatment can take a toll on a person, the burn out rate is high with addiction counseling. I was tired, my goal with my Master's Degree was to start my own addiction program, but in the course of my education I realized I didn't really want to work with addiction anymore so my new goal was to leave addiction behind and just focus on general counseling. I graduated with two Master's Degrees one in Professional Counseling and the other in Addiction Counseling. At this time, I was still working with addiction and running out of steam as I worked to gain my intern hours so that I could be fully licensed. I got my hours and my license and went to work with an agency that had nothing to do with substance use issues.

To say things in the regular counseling world vs the addiction counselor world were different would be a lie. What I thought was going to happen did not and I learned that I needed to branch off on my own (my original goal) and I did after I had a mini mental breakdown and my counselor convinced me that is where I needed to be. So with her help, I found an office and started part time while working full time for the agency. That lasted for about 6 months before I was overwhelmed with clients in my private practice and I had no other choice but to leave (this was a GOOD problem). For the last 2+ years I have been in private practice. I am my own boss and I can do and say (within reason) whatever I want.

I currently work with adults and teens (a select few and could be a whole other blog of why I say select few). I specialize in addiction; anger management; grief; depression; and anxiety. I recently added sex therapy to my practice as I am working on becoming a AASECT certified and currently under supervision.

You'd think I was done and lived happily ever after... The next part is not grim, but my life is taking different twist and turns as I build my practice. I got heavily involved in the LGBT+ community and joined a transgender support group as an ally; as well as other rolls within the LGBT+ community. By joining forces (for lack of a better word) with a prominent person within the community he has encouraged me to not stop where I'm at and to move forward. So I am, I don't know where I will land; however, I'm ready for the journey no matter where it takes me.

As they say, life is about the journey, not the destination.

Am I a good therapist? Yes, I am!!!

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