For the informational interviews with industry professionals in the field of psychology, I interviewed three family counselors namely Claudine Poyet, Monika O'Sullivan, and Andrew Brown.
Claudine Poyet Interview
Since her schedule was filled with appointments for the next one month and she insisted on a face-to-face interview, Claudine invited me for lunch on a Thursday afternoon. Her job title at a thriving local family center she helped co-found twenty years ago is senior partner and managing director. It is because of the daunting responsibilities of her positions that Claudine suggested we hold our interview over lunch.
The job duties of her family therapy practice (my main interest) include scheduling meetings between clients (families in trouble) and associates at the firm. The responsibility of assigning families to the most suitable therapist comes with her senior partner position. However, as a practicing therapist herself, Claudine also handles a lightened case file. As a therapist, Claudine gathers all the information from her clients, reviews the files, attempts to diagnose the problem, and helps her patients through the process of finding solutions to these issues.
Her Master's degree in family therapy comes in handy in her therapy practice duties, but for her tasks as a senior partner at the firm, Claudine relies on her associate degree in business management. The experience she has gained in her twenty-five years as a practicing therapist also comes in handy, as classroom knowledge alone is often insufficient in making headway with patients. What I liked about Claudine's job was the fact that therapists (including her) only work on patients for which they are best suited. The overlapping responsibilities of senior partner and managing director I found disruptive and undesirable.
I interviewed Monika at her office in a downtown building in San Francisco where she practices couple's therapy. Her job title displayed prominently on all signage and her business card is that of Couple's Therapist. Her job is to try to reconcile divorce-bound couples before the strife in their marriage leads to the permanent severing of marital ties.
Monika informs me that while her degree in psychology comes in handy in helping her mend broken families, her passion for the job is her greatest skill. At fifteen, Monika helped her parents reconcile and saved their marriage (and her family) in the process. Ever since then, couple's therapy has been a calling. Her patience in dealing with the petty quarrels of almost every couple she counsels is the reason for her high success rate and is highly sought after. I found the passion with which Monika talks about her job to be stimulating. However, I disliked the lonesomeness with which Monika practices her therapy
Although Andrew is the resident student counselor at Balboa High School, he informs me that his sessions involve full family therapy in almost 40% of all cases. His duties involve interacting with poor performing students to figure out what issues could be derailing their performance, counseling rebellious students, and filing comprehensive psychological reports for the district board of education. Like Monika, Andrew credits his excellence in the job to his passion and dedication to the job.
Students usually manifest their home environment at school, so that troubled kids usually come from troubled families. His vast experience in student counseling enables him to navigate the murky family issues and allow his students to focus on their learning. I liked the multi-layered aspect of Andrew's job and the fact that he helps families solve issues in the household even when his job description is to help students. Having been a student myself not too long ago, I dislike the prospect of spending even more time in the institutional environment.
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