Thursday, January 10, 2013

PhD or Not to PhD?

Why am I doing this? T-shirtHo Hum! I am in my third year of part-time studies in a Counselor Education and Supervision program...and it's getting old. I have four more semesters...that's it!!!! Classes start next week and this is the semester I must take my oral and written comps. Sooooo not looking forward to it! I love my program, but I am running out of steam. So for those of you who maybe thinking about a move in this direction...let me break it down for you.

PROS

  • I have met the most amazing, brilliant people in my program. All kinds of people, with all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds experiences. Being part-time and having a career is a little hard when a lot of my classmates have dropped out of the workforce to attend the program full-time. They get to teach undergrad classes, assist with research and other duties related to the program. So at times, there is a disconnect because we do not live each other's lives, but I try to stay as connected as I can.
  • I have had the opportunity to take a multicultural class in Ireland. Best experience of my life!!! Hands down!
  • I have attended counselor educator conferences and co-presented on topics I normally would have never considered.
  • If you have a master's in counseling, a PhD in counseling is not that far removed. You don't really learn anything new...just delve deeper into it. It is more about advancing your skills.
  • It's not really hard. It's a lot of information due in a short period of time.
  • I realized that I DO NOT want to be a full-time professor. Adjunct for me, Baby!
  • I am a better advocate, proponent and supervisor of and for school counselors and school counseling.
  • There are times when I really do know what I am talking about. All of this jargon and lingo are sticking!!!!
  • I know what they are talking about in journal articles.
  • I have met some pretty well known and respected counselor educators. Some of them teach me every year!
  • I really have grown as an individual and a professional.

CONS

  • Be sure that you understand your program. When I originally applied, I thought it was counselor education. When I got accepted I realized it was ...and supervision AND BOY IS IT SUPERVISION!!!! My program provides the most supervision in the country. No lie! As PhD students we receive supervision from our professors. Then, we provide supervision to master's students. Then there is group supervision where you participate in a doc group and facilitate a group of master's students. There is individual, triadic, internship, practicum...just about every semester until you propose your dissertation. I have grown to love and respect supervision, but it is very time consuming, there is a lot of paperwork, follow-up and responsibility that goes along with it. Also, my program prepares you for one or all of the 3 tracks: LPC, counselor educator or administrator. Not all programs have tracks.
  • Summer session is a mandatory semester!!!!!
  • Most CES programs DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT teach anything about school counseling. It is all mental health based. So the first semester I nearly had an anxiety attack. I had to teach myself about case notes, etc. because my master's program was straight school counseling. I had two professors with a school counseling background and the only thing they could do was use school counseling examples because one class was Intro to Supervision and the other, Program Evaluation. So everything I do...EVERYTHING...I have to infuse school counseling into it and then I have to explain to my mental health cohorts why we do things this way and why we can't do things that way. Even in supervision, I have to explain to the school counseling practicum and internship students that they need to forget alot of what they learned in the program because it is not applicable.
  • All of the stats classes! YUK!!!! A PhD is a research based degree; whereas an EdD is more practitioner based. Also a PhD in counseling is just that...Counseling, not Educational Leadership or Administration.
  • Be ready for all those things you have suppressed to come bubbling out as you practice your advanced counseling skills. As you learn how to be a great therapist/counselor, you have to learn how to effectively deal with all your crap that you have hidden away for years. Not fun. Not fun at all. However, I can process like the dickens now! I have experienced transference and counter-transference. I am aware of metacognition, meta-thinking, received knowledge, parallel process and all that good stuff!  
  • I learned is that there are a lot of counselor educators who have forgotten what it is like in the trenches or have never even been a practicing school counselor. Yes, true!
  • If you attend part-time, your friends and family don't realize the amount of pressure and time constraints that are now upon you. I have had to send many emails letting people know that I am not ignoring them...I am a PhD student now!
  • I think I may have had a nervous breakdown somewhere in this program, but I was too tired to notice.

Oh well..(BIG SIGH)! The semester starts next week and I am off to the semester doc student supervision meeting...coming Dr. T!

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