New VA education and training initiative creates pipeline to hire mental health counselors

Eighteen pre-degree internship positions awarded


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If you are a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, VA needs you!

As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) recruitment plan to hire additional mental health care professionals, a new training initiative has been funded to attract Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors (LPMHC). LPMHCs are an important aspect of the mental health treatment team and VA plans to continue to increase hiring in this profession.

“By building a pipeline of highly-trained Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors, VA will ensure that these important mental health clinicians are available to treat the Veterans we serve today and those we will serve in the future,” said Dr. Robert L. Jesse, Director, VA Office of Academic Affiliations. “Through the ongoing expansion of mental health education and training programs, VA will be better positioned to attract the most qualified and skilled professionals to treat our Veterans.”

To support hiring efforts, VA has announced new clinical training opportunities for LPMHC students for the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year. Eighteen pre-degree internship positions were awarded to seven VA medical centers to provide clinical experiences within VA’s interprofessional mental health teams.

“Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors contribute substantially to VA’s ability to deliver high-quality patient care for Veterans.”

VA anticipates an expansion of these positions in coming years to assist with future workforce needs.

Through its network of academic affiliations and VA-sponsored programs, VA provides clinical education and training programs for approximately 120,000 health care professionals each year.

Recognizing that VA’s health professions training programs are a key resource for recruitment of healthcare professionals with high-level Veteran-centric skills, VA invests $100 million annually to pay stipends for these developing clinicians in key mental health professions including LPMHC, nursing, psychiatry, psychology, and social work.

Sixty percent of VA psychiatrists, 70 percent of psychologists, and 35 percent of social workers have previously participated in VA’s own training programs. We are optimistic that LPMHCs training in VA will be interested in returning to VA for future employment.

“VA is a leader in defining the education of future health care professionals to meet the changing needs of U.S. health care delivery,” said Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors contribute substantially to VA’s ability to deliver high-quality patient care for Veterans. Now we are developing a group of highly skilled trainees to ensure future growth in this important mental health profession.”

Interested mental health care providers can find additional information about VA careers and apply for jobs online at www.vacareers.va.gov.


Man on phoneAbout the Author: Kenneth R. Jones, Ph.D. is the Director, Associated Health Education for the Office of Academic Affiliations

 


 

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Gaines I Arnold    

    I am wondering about the positions described here as I have been hearing about this initiative for some time now. first of all, I am not a licensed counselor. I hold an MS from Southern Illinois University and have been working as a mental health counselor since my graduation in 2003, but I do not have my license. Are these positions only open to licensed counselors, or can I still apply?

  2. thomas gomez sr    

    you cant take away the feeling your going to be attacked from the minute you wake up. till the minute you try to go to sleep. ur not going to take away pulling guard most of the night in your own house. your not going to take away the constant ringing that never leaves. or a smell that takes you right back to nam. or the things we have seen. or hitting the deck when you hear a real lowed noise. your not going to take away the crying every day. or the pain of loosing your brothers on the battlefield. your not going to take away the feeling of guilt because you know you made it back and 55,000 of your brothers did not!and you punish your self every day because you wish you died with them!your not going to take away not wanting to be around people. or going off on your family all the time.PROZAK??. they tried to give that to me. i looked it up. you can hurt your family with that stuff. not everyone . but i’m not taking that chance. i have been like this since i’m 20 years old! i rather be screwed up like i am then ever take something that has a chance of making me hurt my family or anyone else! so you hire anyone you want. the only time this pain will end is when i die. and on that day. im calling out to my brothers and telling them to come get me! because i belong with them!! and i want to find the people i shot and killed. you call them solders . i call them people now!i think of there families. i cry every day for all my brothers and the people i killed! what was that war for again? oh i forgot it was for nothing!!

    1. Niki Burdine    

      Thomas, DON’T GIVE UP!!! I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!! I’ve been there brother and i can honestly say that I had to work hard to gain some hope in living but it is possible!! I went through several different medications before finding the right one that helped me feel somewhat normal again. Please go back to the VA and tell them what you are feeling. Go to group counseling, there’s no treatment better than talking to other Veterans who share your experiences and learn how to cope from each other day to day. Please give it a try!! Don’t give up!! There’s hope in healing!!

    2. Prim S Koeppen    

      People go to mental health councilors to talk about things that are bothering them. This will not take away the pain you are feeling, but it does help to talk about it. I will bet more people hurt their families when not on medication as opposed to those that are. Just the fact that you are worried about hurting your family scares me. I have heard that in some cases people who take Prozac commit suicide, but hurting others is a new one to me. There are so many new drugs out there, but I don’t know which ones would be best for PTSD. I suspect you are self medicating with alcohol or drugs if you feel as badly as you do. Again, more people that are drunk or high will hurt someone than if they are on an antidepressant. I don’t have any statistics, but common sense tells me that. You are just one individual among many who were harmed by the Viet Nam war. Maybe this VA idea could help someone else. I am 65 years old so I know many young people that were killed over there. I feel very sorry for you to have suffered so long. Take care and try to be positive about the new methods of treating mental illness.

      1. DannyG    

        BULL#$*% !!! I have been thru the booze & street drug scene, & Yes, I was violent, dangerous, & even got put in jail for a couple of weeks. BUT thanks to the medicinal marijuana program, I can legally EAT my meds when my “demons” start appearing, have taken myself off of 2 medications DRUGS, PILLS that the VETERANS Administration was giving me; one of which was raising my cholesterol, causing me to take another DRUG/PILL to lower cholesterol ! The side effects of one of the aantidepressant my shrink/pill-pusher wanted to give me said it was known to cause FATAL PANCREATITUS within 6 months. She got upset when I said “Why not just give me a .357 and 1 bullet? It’s the same thing!” I WONDER HOW MANY GOV’T & VA OFFICIALS HAVE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES IN THEIR INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS ?
        I am one of those that believes “they” could cure cancer if they wanted to; just too much money to be made!

        1. Peter Colby    

          Hey there fellow warrior. Although I haven’t walked in your shoes, I’ve served where you have served. Our good Lord tapped me on my shoulder a few years ago and sent me back to graduate school to learn how to help my brother-in-arms. I’ll be done shortly – so wait for me!

          I spent 20-years in the Marine Corps – 8 enlisted and 12 as an officer. I’m one of those people that feel an obligation to help you get as close to normal as possible. We’ve seen stuff that others can’t even imagine! I can and will help. I promise!

          Life just flat out sucks right now. I can relate! Hang on and give someone like me a chance to reach down and help lift you out of that puddle of hopelessness.

          Semper Fi……

    3. DannyG    

      Mr. Gomez, BROTHER! We both feel the pain, ALL of our brothers and sisters feel the pain! Please know that you are not alone, & since WE have been fighting battles & demons for so many years, WE CAN’T GIVE UP NOW !! I am nobody; just another disabled American veteran, but I love my country, & I love all of my brothers and sisters!

    4. Wendy Belding    

      Hi Thomas, I’m a trained clinician and I work with people with PTSD every day. I see people get better through doing Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE). I have also seen people get better by using an intervention called Mantram Repetition. Veterans have access to these treatments. Jill Bormann at the San Diego VA has been doing extensive research on Mantram Repetition and it has shown to really help with sleep. Prolonged Exposure therapy really works too. I have used this with Veterans through my private practice and through research studies funded by the DOD. Not all therapies work the same for everyone but there are solid treatments out there now that are so much better than when you came back from war. You can heal and you can live a life that is fuller and has meaning. Through the choice act you can call the VA and ask to see a provider in your community. If you qualify you can find a provider who specializes in treating PTSD and uses either Prolonged Exposure therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy CPT, EMDR or Mantram Repetition. You can get help. Thank you for your service. Your healing is in my prayers.
      Wendy

  3. Michael T Nicholson    

    I am interested in this position. I am 100% disabled vet wanting to help. I have retired from the Army after 26 years.
    Thank You .

  4. Yolanda mruger    

    I am a Board Certified Life Coach and would like to apply for coaching veterans.

  5. Percival Brown    

    I am currently on active duty finishing up my Doctorate in PsyD. How can I be a part of this program to help facilitate my educational goals? I am currently volunteering at the Naval Hospital on the weekends to gain more experience in the field. Additionally, I would like to tap into some of the financial resources as my VA educational benefits will soon be expended.

    Please feel free to email me any recommendations or resources, thanks in advance.

    Percivalbrown@gmail.com

  6. Jolika Ullah    

    I am a US Army combat vet and I am greatful for this initiative, because I am also a current grad student, attending St Johns University to become a licensed mental health counselor. Therefore, I am a counselor in training, in a Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, with hopes to land an internship with the VA so I can help my military family.

    To my fellow military brothers and sisters, we have learned to Never give up and never quit. Like our fallen comrades, I ask you to fight for your life and never give up or quit! It takes strength to get help and you are strong, you are courageous, you are brave and outstanding so get help. Not only mental health, but maintain your physical health. Dont self medicate! Continue to cry, it will hurt less each time. It may never go away but life may become more managable if u hang in there and continuosly get help from every angle. Finish the race, you can do it. Your brothers and sisters are watching you. Do you really think they would want you to hurt yourself, or your family?? Think about it.

    1. DannyG    

      …………..TRUTH !!!

  7. Deborah Cowan    

    I am the wife of a Vietnam vet who suffered several years with PTSD. He also suffered from several types of illnesses due to agent orange. And through all this he was still proud to have served his country and most of all to be a Marine. My husband died at the age of 66 due to complications caused by agent orange. He spoke to me on several different occasions about his feelings and I tried to help him, the medications he was given did not help. I would like to be given the opportunity to help our military. I have a Masters Degree in psychology and I am a ACMHC / mental health and I amworking on my license for a CMHC thank you D Cowan

  8. Sandi Lowe    

    I am currently a MSW student in my first internship. My goal is to get an internship next academic year and then to transition into a full time employee. I will sit for my LMSW exam as soon after graduation as possible. I plan to go through the supervision hours and then sit for the LCSW exam. I spent 9 months at Walter Reed (2009-2010) after my son what shot while serving in Afghanistan and learned so many things from the veterans there.
    Any chance they will extend from LPMHC to MSWs?

  9. Audrey Simmons    

    Currently a BSW student at Troy University in Phenix City, Al, it is my dream to work at the VA to help other veterans. Internship for my class begins in January of 2016. This would be an excellent opportunity for me to be able to take advantage of.

  10. Christine    

    Hello,
    I am glad to see that there is an internship program being implemented. I will have my M.S in Psychology in 6 months and plan on starting my PhD program as soon as possible. I would love to intern for the VA. Does the VA take PhD interns or do they want only LPMHC’s?

  11. sam johnson    

    i have a ba criminal justice i work with developmental disabilities. i would like this job

  12. Dr. Suzaunna Clark    

    I have been working in the Department of Defense for a combined 15 years. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a PhD in Counseling Psychology, but was hired as an Organizational Consultant. When the Air Force closed all consulting offices, I was reassigned to Education and Training. I have applied for multiple positions to work for the VA in Mental Health, but always told, “I don’t qualify.” I have managed my own part-time Private Practice for the past 15 years, I am a Desert Storm veteran, and have over 30% service-connected disability and watched as non-veterans with no experience, be given these mental health positions because they know somebody. I have little faith in the VA hiring initiative based on experience. Therefore, I have decided to go back to Medical School and become a Neurologist with the hopes of being able to help my fellow soldiers as a Medical Doctor, instead. I am hoping things work out better for me.

    1. DannyG    

      Dr. Clark, My sister you sound like a hard headed “g.i.” ! Thanks for not giving up on helping your extended family. VA has a lot of good people, & from what I’m reading, a lot more coming our way! THANK YOU EVERYONE for your interest in this program! THANK YOU DVA

  13. myrna solganick    

    If I am reading this initiative correctly, it establishes “internships” for LPC’s. I f I read that correctly, it means that someone with an LPC – a licensed professional counselor – is still not eligible for hire unless s/he obtains and internship – which implies that the professional counselor is still not qualified to help veterans. The implication seems to be that irrespective of our years of experience and schooling, and commitment to veterans, we are still not qualified without an internship. I have never heard of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker serving as an “intern”. Internships are usually entry level positions, they are not for professionals with many years of clinical experience.

  14. DannyG    

    Ms. Solganick, Hi, I’m just another vet. I double checked the wording too, & what I see is that they are “pre-degree” internships for students; not someone already licensed. I’m out of my ballpark, but trying to help. No disrespect intended!

  15. Phil J    

    I would love to be part of the Pre Degree Internship program–but how does one get involved? I’m half way thru my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling? I’m retired army–30 years and a disabled Vet. Any assistance would be appreciated? Getting into the VA is tough!–But as our brothers stated in previous posts above. We are tougher!

  16. Sarah    

    I’m interested in the pre-degree internship program, hopefully I qualify.

  17. Judy Redmond    

    Want to know if the VA has such high regard for Mental Health services, do they put the patient off for counseling? I am required to attend 7 Monday’s of training, generic topics such as Grief, Stress, Anger Mngt, all topics I’ve had in Mental Health settings while active duty, BEFORE I can have counseling. So, one is in crisis, but cannot be seen until they attend classes? Seems backwards to me.

    1. DannyG    

      ….and too many VA employees say: “Your point is?” …. WE hear you, Sister! Someday, hopefully SOON !! Don’t give up, please!

  18. Josh    

    Is there assistance for someone with military background but who isn’t licensed? I would LOVE to work for the VA where I could assist my brothers and sisters in arms, but my masters in counseling and psychology does not include a license. Is there assistance for someone like me?

Comments are closed.