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First 5 Years As A Mental Health Counselor

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

The month of November has become a benchmark for my career. 

  • November 2018- I was knee deep in my first course of graduate school

  • November 2020- I finished graduate school and began the process to move back to Kansas City

  • November 2021- I opened New Day Counseling Co

  • November 2023- I finished supervision, received my clinical license, and celebrated two years of my practice being open


So naturally, November has become a time that I’d like to increase my intentionality of self reflection. 


The journey to becoming a therapist isn’t for the faint of heart (not including the process of actually learning how to do therapy). So many ups and downs have happened over the last 5 years. I’m truly not the same person I was. To practice what I preach, I not only want, but need, space to process and reflect on all the last 5 years have brought and what I’ve learned.


  1. Caring for myself as a person and clinician is essential: I knew this job would be taxing, but I wasn’t prepared for how much emotional and mental energy it takes for me to be present and hold space for my clients while managing my own emotions and experiences in sessions. As someone who is more introverted by nature, as well as being an Enneagram 9, this work takes it out of me. I love it and wouldn’t change it, but have had to learn to care for my own needs. This will likely be a continual process, but one I don’t want to lose sight of. 

  2. It's okay to be the therapist I am, not the therapist I see others being: I can’t be all things for everyone. Ooof, my Enneagram 9 energy has learned this the hard way. At the beginning of my career I tried so hard to be a catch-all therapist and to mold myself to be who my clients needed. That left me exhausted and burnt out. When I embraced who I actually was, I found that not only did I attract clients who wanted what I offered, but the work I did was more authentic and impactful. Part of my own work has been continuing to tune back into what I experience and believe about health and healing. Although shame wants me to keep this inside, I remind myself that my framework for therapy doesn't need to change based on other therapists’ approaches or my clients’ own feelings. 

  3. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness: Being highly independent worked for me for a number of years, but I now believe it is wiser in some situations to ask for help from experts that have been doing something longer than you. Why spend valuable time and resources reinventing the wheel when you can be using your energy in other ways? There is something incredibly strong in the willingness to be vulnerable and ask for help.

  4. Shifting is not a failure, it’s change and growth: About halfway through this journey I began to notice a stuck feeling that felt impossible to overcome. What I realized was my own rigidity and beliefs about change. Once I gave myself permission to make shifts on how I practiced and ran my business, the weights began to lift. I asked myself, what if changing as we grow as humans is actually a sign of success rather than failure?

  5. Get people around you: Not surprisingly, this field can be an isolating one. We don’t talk about all the tea and what we did all day with our friends, family, and significant others. Protecting our clients' privacy comes first, always. Therapists often go from one client to the next, so without the intentionality of connecting with others, we could go all day only interacting with clients (as much as we love our clients, we are humans who need connection too). The best things I’ve done for myself, my business, and ultimately my clients, is gathering a tribe around me. Likeminded therapists who understand the dynamics of being a therapist, running a business, and trying to care for themselves all at the same time. I’ve learned humans are resilient and can do hard things IF and WHEN we are not doing it alone.


I want the next five years to come with more kindness towards myself, willingness to be flexible, and significant moments with my clients. Here’s to the next five!



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