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Counseling Psychology Career and Professional Resources

Alumni Spotlight: Heidi Jolson, MA, LPC

June 15, 2010

  • Alumni Spotlight: Heidi Jolson, MA, LPC

My journey toward a counseling career was not planned. When it was time to declare an undergraduate major, I chose Psychology simply because I really had enjoyed my high school Psychology class. I didn’t intended to do anything with a Psychology degree.


With my Bachelors degree in hand, I applied for various positions in different fields, hoping to earn enough income to pay rent, bills, and provide some sense of independence. One of my relatives in my hometown (Northern California) informed me of an opening requiring no experience. I applied for that job as a case manager/mental health specialist, and was offered a position working with clients who had been recently discharged from state psychiatric facilities, helping them to transition to life in the community. It was a steep learning curve, but I discovered I loved helping others and advocating for people who, for many reasons, were unequipped to advocate for themselves.


After two years in that position, I moved north to Oregon, where I accepted a job as a drug and alcohol counselor working with court-ordered clients (DUII diversion and probation). This opportunity, like my community mental health experience, was immeasurable. In both settings I became keenly aware of the pervasiveness of dual diagnosis issues, and I had a strong desire to take my counseling career to the next level.


I was admitted to the Community Counseling program in Lewis & Clark College’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling. My experience in the Counseling Psychology Department was wonderful, as was my life in Portland. The Lewis and Clark community challenged and nourished my professional development in so many ways. I continue to use knowledge/skills that I acquired in my graduate studies, and will never forget the encouragement and warmth of Lewis and Clark faculty and colleagues. I feel so fortunate to have found both my home and my career in Portland, Oregon.


After receiving my Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, Community Counseling, from Lewis & Clark College in 2001, I worked in community mental health for four years. In May 2004 I began working with the Portland Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program, increasing my expertise with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal behavior, and cementing my cognitive-behavioral theoretical orientation.


I am now building my private practice in Southeast Portland. I offer both individual therapy and group therapy for adults who are struggling with the above issues, using a DBT-informed cognitive behavioral approach.


As meaningful as my work has been, the most life-altering transition for me was becoming a mother. Balancing life as a therapist and life as a mother of a toddler has given new meaning to finding balance and maintaining a sense of humor. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through my career journey, and now in my journey as a parent, has been the absolute necessity of having a sound self-care plan. And it’s not enough for me to have a plan - I actually have to use it!


Developing, maintaining and using my plan, as well as finding opportunities to laugh on a daily basis, are crucial. Practicing acceptance with a non-judgmental stance is something I value both in my relationships with others and in my relationship with myself.  In those intermittent moments when I feel less-than-adequate in juggling all my roles, I remember to extend the same caring and compassion to myself that I do toward my clients.  I learned the importance of self-care as part of my professional training at Lewis and Clark. I am grateful that, as students, our humanness was addressed, along with our focus on our clients and the knowledge/skills we needed to become effective counselors.  That’s all so important in my life now, as I continue to learn, both as a professional and as mother.

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