The path to my graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling would probably give some of my classmates extreme anxiety. I only applied to one school. I decided to apply two weeks before the deadline. I submitted my application on the day that it was due. I did not know of any theorists besides Frued ( who doesn't know Frued?) and the only Psychology class I had ever taken was focused on athletes. But, with all that said, I have never felt like I belonged somewhere more.
At the beginning of each semester we go around the room, introduce ourselves and say a little bit about our background. It usually goes something like this: "Hi! My name is Tina and I'm on the Clinical Mental Health track. I worked as an Athletic Trainer at a high school for six years before beginning this program. I am from Boston and a huge sports fan!"
The responses range from: " Ohhhh.. so you can help me get back in to shape?", "How did you end up here?" and my personal favorite "Go Yankees! / Patriots suck!"
Yes, I can probably help you get back in shape, but I actually specialize in working with injured athletes. I guess you can say that I have always been drawn toward people who need support in reaching their full potential. I am not exactly sure how I ended up here, but I do know there is no where else I am supposed to be. My path to getting here may not be traditional, but does that make it wrong?
So, when did I know I wanted to be in the mental health field? The most honest answer I can give is "the day I actually submitted my application to graduate school?" but I think a part of me always knew it was where I belonged. I remember sitting in the back of my parents massive red van with my bff Rose, answering my mothers question about what I wanted to be when I grew up with a certain "psychiatrist!"
It could have been when an athlete I was working with committed suicide. As a result of that experience for my senior thesis I conducted research on the psychosocial aspects of athletic training, instead of the typical injury rehabilitation or diagnosis topics. But, it wasn't until I sat down and made a pros and cons list about my job as a high school athletic trainer that I realized it was truly what I was most passionate about.
Even though I don't currently work as an athletic trainer, I still haven't left the world of athletics. My internship is at the Athletic Academic Center at a University, and I currently advise all concussed student athletes on their return to academics at the high school where I work. I can still be found on the football sideline every Friday. I believe my background has given me a special opportunity to connect with and support a special population that needs mental health support more than we recognize. I hope you follow me along this journey! I would love to hear from you!
Did you always know what you wanted to do in life? Have you taken a non-traditional path to your current career? What would you like to know about athlete mental health?
Former Athletic Trainer, current Mental Health Professional. Boston sports lover.