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MS Counseling, MFT, Military Issues

I am extremely highly motivated to become a licensed mental health counselor specializing in Marriage and Family therapy primarily as a result of having spent 18 years as a member of our Armed Forces and having learned all too well how military life generally adds great strain to a marriage. I have also learned first-hand through trial and error how certain strategies are more helpful than others for saving marriages and families from the frequently painful consequence of divorce. Now 42 years old, I seek career advancement in new directions by earning the MS Degree in Counseling at XXXX University and becoming a certified mental health counselor, so that I might put what I have learned to work helping so save some marriages and helping those that are beyond repair to navigate a divorce process that is as amicable as possible.

I see my professional future as a marriage and family counselor working primarily with military members or veterans and their families. I look forward to many decades to come giving my all to the education and support of my clients in their personal development and family relationships. I will give my all as a highly trained and licensed professional providing treatment to families, individuals, and groups – especially couples - promoting optimal mental health, wellbeing, and family harmony. I look forward to engaging in marriage counseling in particular but also look forward to building a research base in this area and publishing in the future concerning the special strains and pitfalls that accrue to marriage when one or both spouses are in the military. I plan to become an expert in the whole gambit of issues that are central to the complexity of this stress on marriage, stress management, substance abuse, addictions, parenting problems, family problems, suicidal ideation, and self-esteem issues, to cite a few. I also plan to pay particularly close attention to the way in which soldiers and veterans are able to benefit from drug and alcohol abuse therapy in groups as well as on an individual basis.

Nothing excites or attracts me professionally as much as the way that mental health counselors make observations that help them determine a treatment plan that will accomplish their client’s goals, often using personality, aptitude, and psychological tests to determine more precisely the needs of a particular patient.  I also very much look forward to the close collaboration of the mental health counselor with other licensed professionals, especially psychologists, other family and marriage professionals, psychiatric nurses, school counselors, psychiatrists, and social workers. I would feel very much at home working as a mental health counselor in a hospital or another type of medical facility, with psychiatric patients or with mentally ill adults in out-patient day treatment programs.

I see my central long-term goal as providing not only group and individual therapy to soldiers, veterans, and their families but also providing educational lecture presentations – especially in the area of substance use disorders. I am particularly concerned with issues of violence and spousal abuse. In most of these cases, perhaps even the vast majority, substance abuse is a factor. I fully intend to follow the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) for making diagnoses, formulating treatment goals, and applying appropriate clinical intervention. I will also be very much devoted to and engaged in the development and maintenance of community resources for veterans with substance use disorders, providing safe, effective, and cost-effective service delivery in a variety of situations.

I look forward to distinguishing myself at XXXX University in fulfillment of all of the requirements to achieve a license and become officially certified as a mental health counselor, learning everything that I can about human growth and development, psychopathology, career and lifestyle development, group dynamics and group psychotherapy, individual appraisal, and professional orientation. I look forward with keen anticipation to the completion of an internship as part of your program learning everything that I can from my supervisor as part of the licensure process as a professional counselor.  Finally, I intend to surpass the 35 hours of ongoing education every two years that is required to maintain a license since I am most devoted to lifelong education and anticipate being enrolled in at least one course at any given time, so that I will constantly improve in my professional capacity.

I first contemplated earning a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in counseling psychology, but after comparing curriculums, I decided that I was a much better fit with the a Masters in Mental Health Program at XXXX University because it dovetails nicely with my central ideals and professional plans – especially insofar as I will receive cutting-edge training in providing my clients with state-of-the-art treatment.

While I do intend to work with families, I am focused primarily on helping adults, including the elderly who suffer from some mental disorder or some cognitive impairment.  I spend a lot of time reading about anxiety and depression since they are so widespread and represent such a critical and complex public health issue.  I will bring to your program at XXXX University 18 years of experience in the health care field. I aspire to learn everything that I can in your program concerning the improvement of social and psychological well-being by learning how to cope with social and academic challenges, especially with our American war veterans.   I also want to work towards the prevention of mental illness, especially when working with families of civilians as well as soldiers or veterans, focusing on education, relationship building, emotional self- care, and social action.

For eighteen years I have served in the armed forces, 15 years of active duty in the US Army and currently an Army reservist.  In the active duty phase of my army career, I worked in health care as a radiology technologist. Working in the medical field and being a soldier was a most enjoyable experience and I learned a great deal, especially about medicine. I fulfilled a need that I had to do what I saw as my duty as an able bodied young man with a patriotic mindset and I am proud of the fact that I provided quality care to other soldiers and their families.

I also volunteered my time for years with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 2008 through 2009 and El Paso, Texas from 2010 through 2011.  After leaving active duty military in 2012, I had the opportunity to work as a Medical Support Assistant at a Veterans Affairs Medical Clinic and also as a Residential Specialist at La Frontera, a health facility that provides housing and support to drug addicted teens. My success in both of these positions provided me with additional confidence and determination to earn my Bachelors Degree in Psychology and reinforced my desire to continue on to earn a graduate degree in mental health counseling.

A white man who celebrates diversity, I am passionate about multicultural experience and seldom miss an opportunity to explore America’s subcultures and enclaves. One of the things that I loved most about the military was the opportunity to travel to many different parts of the world serving to greatly enhance my understanding of cultural, ethnic, and even psychological diversity. This has equipped me to be sensitive to the cultural factors that come into play with each client that I will work with in the future, always doing my utmost to provide culturally sensitive care and advise that in many cases leads to successful interventions. I will always treat all people in a highly respectful manner irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or any other factor.

It was not always easy for me growing up.  I did not grow up with both parents.  My mother worked 2 or sometimes 3 jobs to support us.  If my mother was unable to find work or we were moving to a different location, I would live with my aunt who was in the US Air Force, which did result in my travelling almost everywhere in the US.  I personally had to deal with numerous stressful situations, being divorced was very traumatizing, even to the point that I needed to acquire my own took kit to ward off depression for a time. Having gone through these experiences, I can easily empathize with how my clients feel in similar situations. I can relate to their circumstances well because I have the ability to reflect inwardly on the complexities of the situations that are confronted by my clients. I faced/confronted many of my problems through therapy and reading the counseling and self-help literature, an experience that strengthened me and gave me the courage to face my difficult circumstances as well as help other people facing up to similar problems. Reading widely on psychology in my spare time and going to school for my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the same helped me to cultivate patience, discipline, consideration, diligence and flexibility, qualities that have helped me to more fully understand the complexities of individual predicaments and gave me the will to look past problems by seeking logical and responsible solutions to all kinds of issues. My own process of maintaining and enhancing my own mental and emotional well-being was another inspiration for my determination to pursue graduate school in Mental Health Counseling.

Once after returning home from an overseas tour, my superiors assigned me to a VA Hospital that was connected to a US Army medical facility.  Every day, as I walked to work, I would see the many veterans standing in line waiting to be attended to for medical and/or mental health treatment.  Since that time, I have read widely the rapidly augmenting literature on PTSD and other emotional disorders, especially depression and anxiety as a result of combat experience. Families of veterans, as well, may be struggling with domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse or suicide.  I feel called to serve as a resource for soldiers and veterans that have experiencing traumatic events - including homelessness, substance/domestic abuse and PTSD.

I have grown enormously on a personal level because I have a wonderful therapist who is marvelous at helping me with self -exploration. This experience helped me to realize that I have a calling myself in this area with the intuitive and intellectual capacity to excel at counseling.  Nothing brings me as much joy as touching someone’s life by helping them to achieve greater clarity in self-understanding. I always feel compassion for those who are suffering.

I thank you for your consideration of my application to XXXX University.

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