Rosemary A. Thompson, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, NCSC
There is a tremendous amount of confusion in the public arena between counselor, therapist, psychologist and psychiatrists. When I first meet a client, I introduce myself and talk about my identity as a licensed professional counselor, what the client can expect from counseling, my background and about the expectations he or she might have about the process. I define my professional identity by describing what I am not: I cannot prescribe medications and I am not a psychologist. Professional identity development is central to counseling professionals’ ethical practice, and along with their privacy rights, I also give my clients a copy of my license.
Professional Identity evolves from the individual’s definition of the work of the profession and can be defined as both an intrapersonal and interpersonal process. Intrapersonal is assimilating the theories and mindset of a licensed professional counselor through one’s theoretical orientation, practice, and continuing education for enhanced skill building to empower diverse clients, (individuals, couples and families) to integrate new skills and into their own behavioral repertoire. In the end I want clients to achieve mental health wellness; to thrive in their environments that they are in; and to gain greater insight into their behavior. This is done by developing plans to reach goals based on strengths, insights and resources of the client based on evidence-based practice. My theoretical orientation is strength-based solution focused therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Intrapersonal is also a commitment to research and teaching by contributing significant information to add to the field of counseling. I have written 12 peer- reviewed textbooks to contribute to the counseling field, and numerous chapters and journal articles. I have taught on the university level from adjunct to associate professor for 25 years.
The interpersonal process is through presentations to colleagues, mentoring of students by socializing them into such organizations as Chi Sigma Iota. I started Chi Sigma Iota, Alpha Omega Lambda Chapter at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia which grew from 26 members in 2006 to 249 members in 2012. The goal: to expose emerging counselors on the graduate level understand and begin to develop a professional identity. We brought two renowned Play Therapist such as Dr. David Crenshaw to our campus for a full-day workshop to expose students to a medium to interact with children and adolescents which they did not receive in their regular graduate program. I also supervise “residents in counseling” to obtain the LPC. Interpersonal process also involves professional presentations and collaboration with students to mentor them to present with you, which I have done.
Essentially, my professional identity has evolved through
2) supervision and mentoring of students, and residents in counseling
3) conducting research for published textbooks,
4) presenting at state, national and international conferences,
5) membership in professional organizations,
6) program design (I developed the online program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling which became CACREP accredited with the graduation of the first cohort), and
7) I am perceived by others as a counselor educator and licensed professional counselor.