Overwhelming Barriers

I had that dream again last night. Maybe you’ve had these kinds of dreams before? In this dream, I’m trying to go somewhere, usually packing for a big trip, but for whatever reason I’m never able to actually start on the trip. I pack a suitcase and then realize I still haven’t packed for my kids or we finally get in the car and there’s no gas or a flat tire that needs to be fixed. It gets later and later in the day and I get more and more stressed at the thought of still trying to make it to our destination in time. The dream always ends before I actually make it to where ever I was going. I’m never satisfied.

The theme of the dream is always the same, though the context changes: I am trapped in a never-ending state of getting ready. I’m constantly preparing but not actually going anywhere.

As I stood getting ready for my work day this morning (I get a babysitter 1 day a week so I can get some work done sans small children), I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness and frustration. At a glance, I am so far away from where I expected to be at this point in my career and sometimes (read: all of the time) the barriers that stand in my way are so large and foreboding I want to throw in the towel and call it quits.

Many of you know that due to state licensing laws, it would be incredibly difficult for me to work in Indiana. Not just get a job, but to work as a therapist at all. Indiana MFT licensure requires that I received 500 practicum hours in graduate school. In Texas, I was only required to log 300 practicum hours, so that’s all I have. When I went to apply for Indiana licensure, I was told unsympathetically that I would need to go back to school to accrue the 200 additional practicum hours before I could even apply for licensure in the state. I asked if the fact that I have over 600 post-graduate, supervised hours would count for anything and they told me no.

So essentially this is what I’m faced with: If I want to work as a therapist in the state of Indiana, I would need to apply to a graduate program, get into the program, and pay the tuition associated with the 2-3 semesters it would take me to accrue 200 hours. On top of paying to be in the program, I would need to pay for babysitting for my 3 children. It would take me upwards of a year to do because most programs don’t offer full-time therapy hours. After a full year of paying the state of Indiana to work as a free therapist, I would finally be able to apply for licensure and none of the work that I had done for the past year would even count towards my full license. I would then need to find a job and finish my interning hours at an agency. Once all of that was done 2.5-3 years later, I’d finally be able to apply for a full MFT license.

But here’s the thing. It shouldn’t be this hard. If I drive 2 hours west, I hit the border of Illinois. Want to know what I need to do to get licensed and work as a therapist in Illinois? Apply. That’s it. I can even have a private practice as an interning therapist.

So what do you do when you are completely stuck? When the 6 years of school, 2 college degrees, and 600+ therapy hours you have done aren’t enough to allow you to even work in your field?

I started a podcast. I call myself a “coach” because coaching is dangerously unregulated, but at least it still allows me to work with clients in some capacity. And I do what I can to keep growing, to keep moving forward, keep chasing the dream I have of being an amazing therapist, public speaker, and author someday.

But sometimes it’s so hard. It’s so hard that I want to just sit and cry and blame my husband or my kids or the universe for how hard it is. I crave the natural credibility and ease that comes with a license. I want the title of therapist instead of the asterisk of life coach and I deserve that title. At the same time, I am grateful that I have had to grow so much through this process. I’ve found myself and I’ve learned so much about what I do and don’t want.

So as I think back about the stress of my recurring dreams about always getting ready, always packing but never actually arriving anywhere- maybe the lesson is in the packing. Maybe I need to get really good and efficient at the process before I’ll succeed in the destination. Maybe it’s learning to deal with the immense frustration, the unfairness and push through it anyway.

I don’t know. I don’t have those answers, but for now I’m going to keep working. I’m going to keep trying different things and keep bringing women together through my podcast and other things because I believe so much in what I have to offer the world.