Breaking Down Barriers for Military Spouse Mental Health Providers


Military life isn’t always easy on a spouse’s career. Heck, it’s rarely easy. No matter what you choose to do, you have to contend with the changes that this life brings to the table. We know what this military life brings, we adjust, we change, we move forward, even with those challenges. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to maintain a career we love, but we find ways to make it work somehow.

For those of us who are in the mental health field, trying to find the right school, internship, supervision, getting licensed (or re-licensed) and finding a job can be a significant challenge. Add to this already difficult situation, a few PCS moves, deployments, and shifting licensing requirements from state to state and it becomes nearly impossible. When you realize we have spouses who are dealing with barriers to becoming mental health professionals, you have to wonder: why is this happening? Especially in light of the staggering suicide rate within our community, and the overwhelming shortage of providers in both the military and civilian world. To top this off, studies show there is a shortage of counselors who know the military culture. As spouses we don’t have that problem. We live it!

There’s a mental health crisis out there. So hiring our military spouse clinicians is practically a no-brainer, right? There are spouses ready and willing to serve. Why are there so many barriers in the way? Why can’t they get licensed? Hired? A foot in the door?

We wondered the same thing!

mental-health-pipeline-military-spouses

That’s where the Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network comes in. The National Military Family Association, along with its partners Give an Hour and the United Health Foundation came together to create this network in order to support the needs of our military spouse clinicians and our community at large. This network will help break down the barriers so our military spouses can help to tackle the mental health crisis in our community and beyond. It will support military spouses through the entire process of becoming a mental health professional and maintaining their license as they move from state to state or even around the globe.

How will this network do that? I’m glad you asked! The Military Spouse Mental Health Profession Network will support each spouse’s journey in the process – no matter what phase they are in. If you are considering graduate school and need information on accreditation and resources for scholarships, we have that. Need supervision for licensure? We will have supervisors and resources available for you. Need licensure information? Re-Licensure information? Employment information and resources? We have that, too. As a military spouse clinician, you will find support every single step of the way through this network.

Additionally, this network will be supported with advocacy to ensure that the best interests of our community are served. The National Military Family Association will advocate on issues that impact our military spouse clinicians. This will include advocating for loan repayment and loan forgiveness, easing of re-licensing requirements, and more.

Military spouses give so much of their time and often have to sacrifice their careers in the process. It’s our hope that we can help to make this process easier for our military spouse clinicians so we can support the mental health of our entire community. Stay tuned, more information on this network will be announced here in the coming months!

Are you a military spouse with a goal to become a mental health provider? How has your journey been so far?

ingrid-yeePosted by Ingrid Herrera-Yee, PhD, Project Manager, Military Spouse Mental Health Professionals Pipeline 

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  1. 1
    Monica

    I’ve been in the mental health field for nearly 7 years post graduate school and have two MA degrees and still can’t get licensed because of our frequent moves. I am now in school to be a dog trainer and about to give up on becoming an LPC because I’m tired of the many failed attempts at getting licensed despite passing my state boards multiple times. While every sacrifice is worth it to be married to my active duty husband, it is a shame that my skills and education are potentially going to waste if I get denied a license once again since I’ve decided this is my last appeal to a state licensing board.

  2. 3
    MFTerin

    EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!! ?????? I’ve worked in Nevada, had to take the national exam in Utah, within 2 mos of moving to Texas! I’m now licensed and in 6 mos we may be moving back to California!! It’s maddening, not to mention instead of gaining credit for having interned/studied/counseled in a variety of cultures, people only seem to notice that you are “new” in each place you go. I’ve always dreamed of being a Marriage & Family Therapist to military and law enforcement families as a specialty and I’m going to soak up the knowledge of running my own private practice, until…..

  3. 4
    MFTerin

    Reblogged this on familytherapysolutions and commented:
    This is an amazing article that basically sums up my experience being a military wife and mental health professional. It’s been a struggle, but for the love of my children and their safety… I just don’t make the greatest stay at home mom. THIS is where my heart lies, and come hell or high water- I will push on…

  4. 6
    thehealingjourneycounselingfl

    So happy to be a part of this journey. Yes it’s a struggle as a mental health providers who relocate so much. I have not been able to work as an License Professional Counselor-IT since I relocated back in 2014 ,but this didn’t stop my dream. I am still inspired despite the challenges. Never give up or give in.

  5. 7
    Virginia

    I am in the very beginning of my process thanks to frequent moves and deployments. I currently have my Associates in Psychology, but am attempting to get a BSW to follow up with a MSW eventually. Funds & moves have made me currently working as a certified pharmacy technician as I have not been able to afford going back to school. Would love to have this process made easier as I would like to be a counselor for soldiers with ptsd. I know there is a great demand and our soldiers frequently don’t get the help they need.

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