Heidi McBain is a Texas licensed marriage and family therapist, Texas licensed professional counselor, and perinatal mental health certification holder. She specializes in women's mental wellness. She received her BA in psychology from Northwestern University in Illinois and her MA in marriage and family therapy from the University of San Diego in California.
Heidi owns a counseling private practice based out of Flower Mound, Texas, but is also able to see clients throughout the state of Texas using online video counseling. Heidi has been married for 17 years and has two school-aged kids and one Labrador retriever (who thinks he's also a school-aged kid).
Why did you decide to pursue a career as a marriage and family therapist?
In college, my major was in psychology and my minor was in relationships. I wanted to learn more about how to strengthen marriages and families, which is why I went to graduate school for my master's degree. I've always loved helping people, but I knew that I wanted to learn more about helping people within a relational/family system.
Was it something that always interested you?
I was always interested in psychology and counseling, but it took me a while to figure out where to focus. I applied to marriage and family therapy master's program, but also to school counseling programs. I'm glad I chose the route I took as I was still able to work with kids, but also got to see a variety of clients with my MFT degree as well.
What steps did you take to become a marriage and family therapist?
I had four years of college, two full years in my master's program, including classes over the summer, and a one-year practicum where I saw clients for the first time during my master's program, plus 3000 supervised clinical hours and a test in order to become licensed as an MFT.
What was your education like?
I really enjoyed my program at the University of San Diego. The professors were great, as were the other students. They also had a variety of practicum sites to choose from, and the one I picked gave me a wide variety of client experiences, from individuals to couples to families to children/teens to group work.
What were the required degrees and certifications you needed for your current position?
I own my own counseling private practice. Along with my LMFT, I'm also a licensed professional counselor (LPC). I'm a registered play therapist (RPT) and also have a perinatal mental health certification (PMH-C). When you have your own private practice, it helps to have a niche/specialty. Mine is women's mental wellness, and I see a lot of new moms who are struggling with postpartum depression/postpartum anxiety.
How were your undergraduate studies different from your graduate studies?
I would say my undergraduate studies were a lot more general and my graduate studies a lot more specific. My undergrad classes left me with a great overview of the psychology field as a whole. My graduate classes prepared me to become the therapist I am today.
What advice would you give to students who are considering pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy?
I'd recommend doing your own work in therapy before becoming a therapist yourself. Know what it's like on the other side so you can best help your future clients from your therapist chair.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Helping my clients grow and heal, and seeing them live up to their potentials. Seeing them face their fears and overcome them. Watching them meet their goals and become the people they have always wanted to be. Helping my clients form deeper and healthier connections in their relationships.
What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?
Overscheduling, as this line of work can be very draining if you don't schedule enough down time for yourself. Hearing some very sad and heavy stories. Clients who aren't a good fit for my practice (I now screen everyone on the phone first and refer out when need be).
What are some of the essential skills someone pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy must have?
Empathy, empathy, empathy!
Any final thoughts?
I absolutely LOVE the field of marriage and family therapy, and am so glad this was the route I took in my professional life. I've worked with kids, teens, families, and couples, so there's a lot of flexibility with the type of clients that you can see. When I launched my private practice 1.5 years ago, I decided to just focus on women, especially new moms. I also decided to do something different to break down the barriers of treatment for this population, and I'm now seeing all my clients online with online video counseling.
I'm sharing this to show that there are so many different things that you can do with this degree, and I love how different my work life looks today versus in 2002, when I was newly licensed and working for an agency. I highly recommend looking into becoming an MFT!
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