When you graduated with a degree in Psychology or Social Work or became certified as a Chemical Dependency Counselor back in the day, the general consensus was there were basically two options for employment after you graduated: either work for an agency or go into private practice. Within those two options, private practice was considered a dirty word and “politically incorrect. Becoming a media expert on national television was rarely recognized unless you wrote a book, and there certainly was no Dr. Drew or Dr. Phil. It was understood you were going to graduate and provide therapy for emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders and that was “good enough.” What is so exciting for today’s clinician or chemical dependency counselor, is that there are many more options running the gambit from working in traditional settings such as a non-profit institution or agency to taking the road less traveled and becoming a media psychologist, media consultant, marketing director or even a radio or TV host. Today, being a clinician in America means many things, and for many clinicians like myself, they have been able to brand themselves. For example, I am known as a Celebrity Psychotherapist who has worked in addictions from my work on the VH1 reality TV show “Celebrity Rehab.” That is just one example of how the face of the mental health practioner has changed with the influx of reality TV, blog radio, blogging, YouTube, and all the other opportunities that go beyond the agency setting.
When we think of traditional settings for clinicians or chemical dependency counselors, they may include a hospital or mental health clinic. We often imagine clinicians working with patients or family members to access community resources, treating mental disorders or disturbances, working with clients with special need, and working individually and specifically with those clients to help them meet their needs. Clinical work can also extend to school settings and may involve working with special needs students or students in the foster care system who may require additional help and support.
In the realm of special needs children and child psychology, clinicians may be called upon to work in a variety of manners and settings from case working, adoption or foster care counseling, at-risk counseling, and advocating for child welfare. This type of work may be applied in a multitude of public and private settings and for a wide variety of tasks.
Outside of work that is clinical or counseling related, clinicians may be utilized for their special knowledge in a variety of manners by nonprofit institutions or government agencies. With advanced degrees, an academically advanced clinician can move into the field of research and work with other scholars to advance techniques, counseling procedures, and a general understanding of human nature. Clinicians with specialized knowledge may also be employed in a professionally integrated setting. For example, clinicians with special experience in law and policy may enter the field of public policy and attempt to influence legislation and regulations that affect the profession and its clients.
Furthermore, some institutions may hire clinicians with media experience as media experts for related news stories. In this manner, the clinician is helping to raise awareness of their field and educate the public. In addition, another career in entertainment might be becoming a Media Consultant. Media Consultants regularly meet with film and television producers, directors, and writers, helping them accurately depict human behavior in media productions. Another fast growing field, for example, is working for a reality television production company assessing the stability of cast members to make sure they are stable enough to appear on a show. In addition, another branch of clinicians includes marketing directors who help understand how consumers react to certain types of advertising. With the explosion of social networking, clinicians are attractive for following marketing trends, paying attention to competitors, and developing company brands.
Other nontraditional settings where clinicians can use their skill set and their knowledge of human behavior include corporations and private businesses. These jobs may pay higher salaries and offer greater benefits than traditional settings and represent an expanding employment market during the recession.
Regardless of the workplace setting or the exact job title, clinicians will often need to advocate, protect, educate, link individuals with community resources, counsel, and conduct research. With these practical skills and a valuable education, clinicians are able to take the knowledge acquired in their line of work or academia and obtain jobs that many may not typically associate with this career. As the fields of psychology, sociology, and chemical dependency counseling advance, so do the multiple career opportunities. With the right education, and a drive to succeed, clinicians and chemical dependency counselors can use their skills to advance in a wide variety of interesting and fulfilling career paths.
Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Certified Dream Builder Coach and Recovery Coach is featured on Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriet: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recvoery” Sherry consults Clinicians and Chemical Dependency Counselors on how to Celebrity Brand themselves. Sherry also conducts webinars, teleseminars, speaking engagements and co-hosts a radio show in Ventura County Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Take Sherry’s Celebrity Branding Quiz and get your Free EBook on “How to Discover Your Celebrity Wow” at www.sherrygaba.com.