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Residential Counselor/Group Home Counselor?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by EnergizerBunny0, Nov 13, 2008.

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  1. EnergizerBunny0

    EnergizerBunny0

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    I am thinking of getting a full time position as either a Residential Counselor or a Group Home Counselor while I go to grad school for social work. Are both counselors essentially the same? What does the job entail? I am thinking of doing an overnight position so I have the day to do my internships - what would nights specifically entail? Is the job reasonably safe? Are there any physical requirements - IE: would I need to lift patients or restrain patients? (I am partially disabled with back and neck problems.) Is this good experience for someone going into social work? Are there any other positions you would also recommend to someone pursuing a MSW? I was also considering working in an inpatient psych hospital, but several social workers advised against this because they said it could be dangerous for me - is this true? Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!
  2. erg923

    erg923

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    I think alot of this depends on what kind of group home setting you are in, the population you are working with (teens, geriatrics, substance abuse, chronic serious mental ilness), the functional levels of the population, and the specifics of your job description. Most of these sound like questions that only the employer can answer for you.
  3. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    +1 for what erg said.
  4. kelseyjosine21

    kelseyjosine21

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    Well I can tell you a little about working the overnights anyway. You're not going to be doing any counseling working an overnight position. Most places, here in ND anyway, don't even have counselors or anything like that on staff nights or weekends. I will be applying to MSW programs next fall and right now I'm a senior psych major. I have 2 jobs where I work overnights. One job I work at is a residential psychiatric facility for 10 to 18 year olds. Basically all the kids are sleeping by the time I get here. My other job is at a chemical dependency treatment program for women with children. On my overnights I basically just hand out any meds that need to be taken. I also work some nights there where I'm actually seeing the residents more. At my first job, there aren't any soical workers or anyone there nights or weekends. At my second job, they have someone on call, but pretty much everyone leaves at 5. I like overnights though because it allows me to well, make money, and also get my homework done so I never have to do it at home. I plan on sticking with overnights through grad school too just to have time to do homework. So if you want to actually counsel, overnights aren't going to work. But I like them, so I hope this was helpful!
  5. EnergizerBunny0

    EnergizerBunny0

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    Thanks to everyone for their feedback. :)

    Kelseyjosine - you were very helpful! I have been stressing how I am going to work full time, go to school part time and do my internships during the day - and then somehow find time to do my homework AND sleep. I am a returning student so I definitely need to work full time and I also need a job that has benefits. You sound like you have found the perfect solution - to work nights when it is quieter so you can also do homework. It may take some time to adjust to sleeping during the day, but hopefully, if I start now, I will be used to it for the Fall when I hope to start school. I was also a psych undergrad. (I went to school full time and worked full time, but didn't need to do internships - plus I was younger back then LOL!) Do you mind some more questions?
    1. Do you work alone or is there always someone with you?
    2. I see that you are also going for the MSW, instead of counseling or psych. That was a tough decision for me - still doing a bit of flipping back and forth. If you don't mind my asking, why are you choosing to pursue a MSW (versus psych or counseling)?
    3. Has there ever been an "emergency" at night at your place of employment? How were you expected to handle it?
    4. You said that there are some nights where you actually see the residents more - what do your duties entail then?
    5. Are you expected to do any lifting? (I know each place is different.)

    Thanks so much for your help!!


  6. kelseyjosine21

    kelseyjosine21

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    Oh wow someone actually asking my opinion, that never happens haha. Well I'll do my best!
    1. At my job at the chemical dependency place, I work alone on the overnights. However, our residents are women with children, so the possibility of them doing anything to hurt me is not high. Plus we have security doors and cameras and stuff and if I needed to, I could lock myself in the office to protect myself. At the psychiatric facility, I work with a partner. We have one staff for the boys and one for the girls. Although it's a small facility so we just have this hallway with bedrooms and we sit down on the boys end where the tv is lol. But since they are minors we have to do room checks every 5-10-15 minutes, which is actually good because it keeps you awake and it takes like 2 minutes to walk down the hallway and back.
    2. I decided on an MSW for it's flexibility. I don't want to be tied down to just counseling for my entire career. I definitely want options. I had a hard time between MSW and Psych. But in the end, I don't want to go get my PhD or PsyD, I want to be done sooner lol. So MSW is the right thing for me and I can do different things with it.
    3. There has never been an emergency at either of my jobs. But if there is, usually I have to call our on-call staff person, and they'll tell me what I need to do.
    4. I work some nights at the chemical dependency place. My position is "House Supervisor" and basically I do things like apartment and car searches, we do Urine tests, breathalyzers, dispense medications and just help them with things they need. It's really not hard at all haha. We also do some light cleaning.
    5. I haven't had to do any lifting at either job. But if there was a random night you had to lift something and you couldn't, you can usually just tell whoever comes to work after you why you couldn't do it and that's always fine.

    I work overnights on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and then 1 or 2 5 to 10 shifts a week. Plus I go to school full time Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I can't remember the last time I've had to do homework at home. It really makes it alot easier. Hope this was helpful!
  7. WannaBeDrMe

    WannaBeDrMe

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    I just want to chime in ehre that my MSW program was pretty work-intensive (not necessarily smart-intensive... but work intensive)... It was over 60 credit hours, so classes 2 days a week, 6 hrs a day... and the internship 3-4 days a week, 8 hrs a day.

    On top of that there were some volunteer/community civic activities and required educational conferences/trainings we had to work in... plus my grad assistanceship...

    the coursework was insane...they LOVE busy work in social work programs... no fewer than 2-3 papers per week, 100s of pages in reading, obtuse assignments that take a LOT of time like genograms, ethnography reports, collages, and I can't even remember what else... but to keep up with the home work easily took 15 hours a week... and I'm incredibly super fast and can push out a fully cited /researched 15 page paper in less than 5 hours...

    I don't think that was just my program, my friends from u maryland, columbia, syracuse, and columbia all told similar stories

    Just tossing it in there that you definitely need to check with current students about the courework before you plan on employment... out of 20, we only had 2 who were able to remain employed during the entire program... and they only did so b/c they were able to count their work hours as internship hours and flex their other shifts
  8. WannaBeDrMe

    WannaBeDrMe

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    oh, and wait, those social workers who were against the psychiatric unit are the opposite of me... i'm a social worker for the psychiatric unit

    i learned more there than in any other experience within mental health... i'm sure it dpeends on the hospital and the staff... but mine were exceptional... and i ended up walking away with better diagnostic skills than almost everyone in my cohort... b/c i saw the most broad range of patients and had to go through about 20 a day compared to 3-4 a week...

    i felt less safe doing outpatient than i felt on the unit... in outpatient, sometimes you will be alone in your office... others are gone to lunch, whereever... and it's just you and this client... not to mention whoever else wanders in off the street...

    a locked unit typically has at least half a dozen staff present (depending on their size) ... panic buttons... little in the way of damaging objects avaialble for you to be hurt by... etc, etc,...

    now, my reasons for not working in a psych unit as anything other than a licensed professional are simple... you would be a tech and techs have to do some gross things... give baths, clean poop/pee, clean up blood if someone hurts themselves... im grossing myself out with memories... but you get the idea

    so, i was just going to stick up for the units... yes, they can be dangerous... but in my opinion, at least those clients have been evaluated and you have some awareness of their potential... in outpatient, the clients are more likely to be unstable, you have no idea when their last meds or assessment or even nap have taken place... hospitals just control for more variables
  9. jwtaylor

    jwtaylor Member

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    I've been a group home counselor for nearly three years now in two different locations. I was a resident counselor (I would caution you against taking the counselor label too seriously) in a group home with high functioning mentally ill individuals and I currently work with mentally disabled individuals. The jobs are roughly the same. Depending on the situation you may be expected to use counter-agression restraints (you will almost certainly be trained in counter-aggression). You will be involved in administering meds (your level of involvement depends on law and company policy). Generally you're a babysitter who takes care of individuals who, for whatever reason, need to be looked after. Group homes are so diverse and it is difficult to generalize about them. My jobs aren't hard. They do have their moments where I just want to scream about this or that, but my worst day in a group home is better than all of my good days at any other job combined. You will be well trained and will have coworkers looking to make you a good coworker. I recommend a job like this to anyone. As far as school, I do a moderate amount of work while I'm on the job, but I can't speak directly to your situation. Good luck and have fun.

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