Counseling isn’t the only option for marriage and family therapist grads
For the second of a series on marriage and family therapist graduates, Jessica Cone, manager of Community and Corporate Relations at Brandman University’s Roseville campus, caught up with Chris Pawlak and Darla Gale. The recent graduates of the program were happy to talk about their success in the field and their Brandman experiences.
The Marriage Family Therapy program isn’t just about providing therapy. While collecting all of my BBS (Board of Behavioral Services) hours I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to do therapy. I like working at the macro level writing policies, and procedures, which in turn impacts more clients than individually.”
AUBURN, Ca – After Chris Pawlak completed his Bachelor of Science in psychology at Sacramento State University, he assumed that he would do his master’s there as well. As he started looking at the schedule of classes he realized that it would be very difficult to make it work because he was also working full time. Brandman University’s evening courses and the campus in Roseville made it very convenient for Pawlak to take classes close to work and home, on his schedule. He began in 2007 and finished in 2009, taking just two classes at a time.
Pawlak currently works for Placer County in the Adult System of Care. He wears many different hats but his primary role is as the program supervisor for Community Resource Programs. He oversees the Cirby Clubhouse and Welcome Center, which provide referral services for housing, clothing, and food while working to support participants in areas such as mental illness, substance abuse and homelessness. His team sees between 50-70 individuals per day. Pawlak is also the Workforce Education and Training (WET) coordinator, working to train Placer County employees and the community on issues of mental illness in order to strengthen and increase positive responses.
Brandman University provided Pawlak with the support he needed to finish his program. One thing he found incredibly valuable was when, just before practicum, his instructors arranged for mock oral exams and presentations to help the students prepare. Pawlak felt that through activities like this he really understood the level of commitment each faculty member held for the students. In addition, the small class sizes made it very easy to get to know the instructors, building life-long relationships at the same time. – Jessica Cone
This educational journey for me was about embracing fear and having the courage to move through it. If you fight it, it can become disabling. The only way to grow is to walk through it.”
LOOMIS, Ca – It took a life-changing event for Darla Gale to realize that she was not walking down the right path in her life. She had been working in a sales position for many years but it wasn’t her passion. Gale had thought quite a bit about going back to school to become a marriage and family therapist (MFT) but wasn’t sure if she had the time. In reflecting on her current job, she knew the relationships she had built were a foundation for a career helping others and she realized that she wanted to have a greater impact on the lives of people.
Gale enrolled in Brandman University’s Master of Arts in psychology degree program and decided to pursue the MFT emphasis area. It was Brandman’s flexible schedule and evening hours coupled with her drive that helped Gale get through the entire program in just two years. She continued to work full time and appreciated having a campus right in Roseville that she could get to right after work.
In thinking about her time as a student, Gale appreciates the relationships that she also developed for herself. The friends she made and the professors that she had in her courses have become a part of her life. She did not expect to have faculty who cared so deeply about each individual student. In addition to the support she received, it was also the depth of knowledge that the faculty had a Brandman that supported her each step of the way.
In January of 2014, Gale opened her own practice in Loomis, California, called Heartstrings Counseling where she is currently the executive director. The mission of her organization is to embrace and sustain the hearts and lives of individuals, couples, families, teens and children. Her company provides a sliding scale payment option to further support those who cannot afford counseling services. She employees nine therapists (seven interns and two trainees) and is looking forward to the future when she may be able to further expand her business and have her own private practice. – Jessica Cone
The series to date:
- Where the jobs are: counseling families and students
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