Life After the Program
Graduates of the Counseling program at Sonoma State go on to fulfilling careers in the counseling field. Read about the program experiences of our graduates below.
Troy, PPS Graduate
Shannon, PPS Graduate
I am a 2020 graduate of Masters in Counseling and PPS program at Sonoma State University. During my time at Sonoma State, I was given in-depth mentoring that has allowed me to enter the field of School Counseling as a prepared professional, ready to engage and support students in the social-emotional, academic, and college/career domains, within the K-12 educational system. I am now a High School Counselor in Sonoma County, and I can wholeheartedly say that choosing this program was the best choice I could have made. Even as an Alumna, I am still being given opportunities to learn, grow, and stay connected within this profession. Before joining, the program appealed to me because of how previous graduates spoke of the program, and the location was ideal. Now that I have gone through the program, I can say the aspects that made this the best choice for me were the small cohort size where I was able to connect and join a professional network, the engaging classes and professors that helped me learn, the supervisors I had during my practicum and internship experience, and the opportunities of growth this program connected me to, like sitting on the School Counselor Association Board Committee and becoming a co-facilitator for a program I volunteer with Dr. Zagelbaum at San Quentin State Prison, along with other fellow students and graduates. I look forward to continuing to grow within this field and to staying connected to this program as an Alumna.
Helene, PPS Graduate
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in SSU’s School Counseling program. The curriculum emphasizes a comprehensive and holistic approach to counseling in our modern world, including training on legal and ethical principles, multicultural counseling, crises, and more. I most appreciated the small size, the sense of community, and the hands-on experiences within the program. During my time as a graduate student, I worked with students in elementary, middle, and high school settings with a focus on social-emotional, academic, and college/career domains. I also delivered Educationally-Related Mental Health Services counseling for K-12 students locally. During my second year of the program, I volunteered to co-facilitate group counseling at San Quentin State Prison with Dr. Zagelbaum, two of my peers, and a few undergraduate students. I feel that I was well prepared for the profession after completing classes, practicum, internships, trainings, and professional developments. After graduating in 2020, I was hired at a high school site in Sonoma County. I realize that I will continue to learn and grow each day as I work with students and navigate through unprecedented times. I go forward with strong mentors, lifelong friends, and a fulfilling career ahead of me because of SSU’s School Counseling program.
Juli, CMHC Graduate
Before attending Sonoma State's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, I worked in a completely different field. SSU provided the foundation for me to start a new career. After graduating, I took a position working with children ad adolescents in schools. During my time at SSU, I had the privilege to work on a research project with one of my professors. I learned about qualitative research while also examining an intriguing topic. This experience helped me recognize my desire to continue my education and apply to doctorate programs. I feel fortunate to have gone to Sonoma State. I enjoyed my professors and peers who continually supported and encouraged me as a new and growing clinician.
Andi, CMHC Graduate
Going through the SSU Masters in Counseling program was a transformative experience that allowed me to learn from distinguished faculty and establish my identity as a therapist. With small class sizes and supportive professors, this intimate program challenged me to explore what it means to engage in a therapeutic relationship and consider the many ways in which my unique identities impact the services I deliver to my clients.
The small size of the cohort meant that we became close quickly. We trusted and supported each other as we developed into therapists and became comfortable with being vulnerable with each other to advance our therapeutic skills.
The program has established partnerships with a myriad of trainee sites which allowed for ample opportunities to get direct counseling experience in reputable environments. I received valuable support from my professors and peers throughout my traineeship and appreciated the thoughtfulness and time that my professors dedicated to assist me in my development.
I continued to work at my traineeship site after graduation and have been there now for three years. The Sonoma State Masters in Counseling program provided me the practical tools, personalized support and foundational knowledge to succeed in my role as a youth and family therapist.
Gwyn, CMHC Graduate
A little more than a year after graduating from the CMHC track in the Counseling department, I find myself finally arriving at the career destination I had been envisioning for the past twelve years. At the beginning of my second year in the SSU Counseling Program, I began a two-year traineeship/internship at the Women’s Therapy Center in Berkeley. In September 2016 I graduated from that program and began a private practice internship in the East Bay.
I continue to feel grateful for how deeply and consistently supported I felt by the faculty and my classmates during the program, especially given that I was working 20-30 hours a week in addition to commuting from Berkeley to attend school full time. The program’s rigorous demands were mitigated, in my case, by a stellar cohort who ranged widely in age and experience, yet came to the program with a touching earnestness that allowed us to risk and grow together in ways I have rarely encountered in other academic settings. The core faculty also showed an astounding devotion to their students. Structurally, I could not have asked for a more thoughtful and supportive introduction to clinical work than the program’s sequence of experiential courses. The respect and encouragement I felt throughout my two years at SSU contributed enormously to helping me develop the courage to launch into this profession.
Currently I’m working full-time in my private practice internship, having just left the day job that supported me through graduate school and my first internship year. I work from a relational psychodynamic orientation that is also informed by intersectional feminist, somatic, mindfulness, and transpersonal perspectives as well as an emphasis on social justice. My practice focuses on serving clients who identify as queer, trans/gender-nonconforming, sexual outsiders (poly/kink/BDSM), and POC (people of color). SSU’s program gave me a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for building my areas of expertise, as well as a great deal of encouragement in finding my place within the profession.
Gina, CMHC Graduate
Sonoma State’s MA in Counseling, CMHC program has greatly shaped me into the therapist that I am growing into every single day. The supportive nature of the faculty and the close-knit cohort model truly allowed me to be vulnerable, supported, and challenged throughout my education. Not only did I grow as a clinician, but also as a friend, family member and partner. The skills you develop in this program will stay with you throughout your career and more importantly throughout your personal life and relationships. I am currently working as a MFT/PCC Intern at the Child Parent Institute in Santa Rosa. CPI provides counseling to low-income children, teens and their families. During my second-year in the program, I did my Traineeship at Petaluma City Schools providing non-directive Play Therapy to students K-6. During this year, I developed a passion for working with children and I feel very fortunate that I was able to continue following that passion post-graduation at CPI. My future career goal is to be a licensed clinician providing services in schools as well as opening a private practice. Thanks to the Sonoma State Counseling Program, I feel prepared and excited to continue to grow, be challenged, and be impacted by the amazing individuals and families we come across along the way.
Megan, PPS Graduate
My experience in the Masters in Counseling Program at Sonoma State University was wonderful! I enjoyed all of my classes, peers, and professors so much and feel I was given all the tools and resources to be successful as a school counselor. The professors were always available in person, by phone or email when consultation was needed and helped with advising on challenging situations. I was given the opportunity to practice the things that I used at my school sites during my various internships. Many of the classes directly related to the work that I am doing now.
I started my career at San Rafael High School which was an amazing experience and taught me even more on being a high school counselor. I had the opportunity to work with many different populations – including newcomers, special education students, and high achieving students and participated in many parent night events. I am currently in my third year as Lead High School counselor at Petaluma High School. I love my current site, counseling team, and overall school culture and spirit! High school counseling is my dream career and I have Sonoma State University to thank for that!
Patricia Ann, CMHC Graduate
My two years in grad school at Sonoma State were among the most exciting years of my life. I learned from some of the best and brightest professors, and their lessons continue to guide me in my clinical work. As an older student coming to the program in midlife after a lengthy first career, I had been apprehensive that I wouldn’t fit in or be accepted by students or faculty. However, nothing was further from the truth. If anything, the opposite was true and I felt that the extra life experience I brought to the table was appreciated and respected. Early in the program I realized that I wanted to work with trauma survivors blending seemingly contradictory cognitive-behavioral and Narrative therapy interventions, and at every step my goals and my approach were honored and supported by my adviser and my professors. The program’s stance wasn’t, “This is how we are going to mold you,” it was more like, “Tell us what kind of clinician you want to be so we can give you the tools you need to get there.” I’m now in my 4th year as an MFT Intern with a local agency, continuing to work with trauma survivors and continuing to build on the learning I acquired and skills I developed as a student. I’ve passed my first licensing exam and should complete my hours in 2017. The journey hasn’t always been easy but it has always been rewarding. I love my new career! Applying to Sonoma State’s counseling program to pursue my dream of becoming a therapist stands as the best life decision I ever made.
Will, CMHC Graduate
I reflect upon my educational experience and training in the Counseling Department at SSU with the utmost sentiment and fond memories. I can't believe it's been four years since I graduated from the Program! I couldn't imagine being where I am today, as a pre-doctoral counseling psychology intern at a Big Ten school, without paying homage to the outstanding training I received studying under the faculty and staff in SSU's Counseling Department. The relationships I developed with faculty at SSU have been unparalleled in my overall career as a student and new professional. I found the faculty to be highly engaged and supportive even throughout my struggles to feel confident and competent. While I took the long road to pursuing a doctorate in counseling psychology, by first entering the terminal Master of Arts in Counseling (Marriage and Family Therapy) Program at SSU, I would not trade my time at SSU for that of a direct admit doctoral program. The Faculty's support provided me with the developmental mentorship to build my confidence as a new and rather shaky trainee. The confidence I developed as a result of the relationships I had with faculty enabled me to believe in myself, both personally and professionally, which led me to construct new goals from my shifting sense of self. I would be remiss to fail to acknowledge what I gained from my training in the Department as my time at SSU was the cornerstone to my development as a practitioner-scholar.
Brad, CMHC Graduate
I was fortunate to have spent 2 years in the SSU Counseling Departments MFT program. Being in a cohort of other students who were hilariously funny, caring, and selfless helped make things much easier than they actually were. Since graduating from Sonoma State’s Masters in counseling program in 2010, I have accomplished more than I could have imagined. After graduation I continued to work as a Caseworker at Hanna Boys Center as an Intern, all the while watching my 3000 hours dwindle down to zero left. In 2012, I was graciously asked by SSU Professor Julie Shulman to assist on a recurring basis in her Couples class. People who I know in that class still give me grief when I see them about how bad a client I was. I became a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in May 2013, something I really never thought would happen. Without the support of my family, colleagues, and all the professors in the Counseling program, none of this would be possible. In 2015 I became the Admissions Director at Hanna Boys Center, and continue expand my abilities to help the families and clients I see. Over the past year I have been trained in Trauma Informed practices by Dr. Robert Macy, which has been a tremendous experience. I am also in the process of being certified in EMDR under the supervision of Dr. Roger Solomon. I thank all the SSU Professors for their dedication to helping me navigate to where I am today. Don’t forget to take care of yourself first!
Brian, CMHC Graduate
I began attending the Counseling Department at Sonoma State University after first attending another graduate program that I was disappointed in. The Counseling Department at Sonoma State University not only provided a first class education in the field of Counseling, but it also provided an extremely solid experiential foundation to become a counselor! I learned how to be present with many different people and their experiences that they had brought. Additionally, my peers were just a delight to work with, developing some lifelong friendships, growing as a person, and the professors have remained favorites of mine!
After graduating the Counseling Department in 1999, I was hired as a Counselor at the College of Marin, blending Academic, Career, and Personal Counseling with students. In the Community College System, Counselors are members of the faculty, and at the time I was hired at College of Marin there were five counselors on staff who were graduates of the SSU Counseling Department! Also, taking core courses (as an MFT student, then known as MFCC), with PPS fellow peers, helped me to understand school environments, working with populations and the public, plus institutional policies and procedures, another enormous benefit; I became fully prepared to work in the Community College System.
I continued on with my studies, completing a Ph.D. in Psychology in 2003 and receiving my MFT license that same year. Two years later, I became a full-time Counselor for Columbia College in Sonora, CA, near Yosemite, and became a tenured faculty member in 2009. I work primarily with students in our EOPS Program, Disabled Students program, and Veterans, and teach Guidance and Psychology courses. However, my heart also lies in working with clients in Private Practice since 2003. My main emphasis or focus is on Trauma and Grief, as well as general concerns and challenges.During my experience in the Counseling Department, I learned that the program was accredited by a special accreditation known as CACREP. Graduating from a CACREP accredited program allowed me to sit for the National Counseling Certification, which was in the works towards developing a National License. Eventually, I took a very brief Gap Exam and became licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor. Now, I feel so fortunate to be in a position to pass on the wonderful mentoring that I received from SSU, supervising an outstanding Intern from a fellow California State University, Counseling program (Stanislaus) who is becoming an LPCC and Community College Counselor.
Finally, words cannot describe the enormous gratitude that I have for the Counseling Department, but here goes: if it wasn't for the first class educational and experiential foundations, and even more important personal growth that I received in the Counseling Department at Sonoma State University, I would not have developed the skills necessary to work in a College setting, become a licensed therapist, or continue on with my education!