Many pre-licensed therapists find themselves in need of a paid position before they receive their associate registration number. Students and new graduates may want to enter the mental health field as soon as possible; however, employers are not always willing to hire applicants for therapist roles unless they have an associate registration number in hand. The BBS’ delays with processing associate registration applications further contribute to the challenges these individuals face.
How can a pre-licensed therapist make money in the meantime? One idea to consider is applying for non-therapist roles within agencies that hire therapists. Examples of job titles for these types of positions include “Care Coordinator,” “Case Manager,” and “Mental Health Specialist,” among others. “Residential Counselor,” “Substance Use Counselor,” and similarly worded “counselor” positions may also accept applicants who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but don’t have an associate registration number.
Potential benefits to working within these roles are outlined below.
Utilizing Clinical Skills
While it’s true that you won’t be providing therapy, you can certainly put your clinical skills to work. Examples of this include establishing rapport with the agency’s clients, determining what other resources individuals might need in addition to therapy, and coordinating care with other professionals within and outside of the agency.
Establishing a Presence
Who are the staff members that hire therapists within those agency settings? Who provides clinical supervision to the therapists the agency employs? This is an opportunity to establish a presence within the agency, and when you’re ready to apply for therapist positions, your fellow staff members will be able to place a face to the name they see on the application.
Networking with Professionals
Even if you decide to work in a different setting once you obtain your associate registration number, it can’t hurt to learn more about the professionals who work within the agency and to stay in touch after you move on. The therapist community can be a small one, so building meaningful connections now can lead to collaboration with those professionals at a later point in your career.
Of course, there are potential pitfalls to be aware of with these roles.
Overstepping your Role
Yes, you have the education and experience of a pre-licensed therapist; however, playing the part of a therapist when you have been hired for a different role can lead to an array of issues. For example, clients may mistake you for their therapist if you do not clarify your role, which can lead to confusion for the clients and frustration on the part of the designated therapists the agency has employed.
Blurring the Lines
Occasionally, non-therapists will be asked to plan and facilitate support groups at agency settings. If you do not have an associate registration number and are not receiving clinical supervision, then you need to be especially mindful of the nature of these support groups. While they may be therapeutic, they cannot (and should not) be perceived as therapy groups.