By Talya Straughter
Grateful for my ‘no’:
A beautiful friendship
In 2010, a colleague named Dawn challenged me to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC). “Straughter, you need to get licensed. There are more opportunities as an LPC.”
Two years later, I decided to take action. I entered the marriage and family therapy program at Mississippi College.
As I was approaching the time to register for the National Counselor Examination, not feeling completely prepared, I talked myself out of registering for the April 2014 test. I am thankful I did. My favorite uncle, Robert, succumbed to cancer a week before the April examination, and the grief was nearly unbearable. The weekend that I would have been scheduled for the test, I was traveling to Georgia to celebrate my uncle’s life.
I wrestled with my uncle’s death but settled with this sign from God that I would pass the test in October. I began to prepare. I would listen to Howard Rosenthal’s “Encyclopedia of Counseling” CDs each time I got into my car. It got so bad, my children (ages16 and two at that time) could recite the information.
Taking the test
The time flew by and October came. Kellie Lane, founder of Jackson-based Warrior Nation Ministries, invited me to a worship celebration the night before my test. I told her no. She smiled and stated, “If you don’t know (the material) by now, you won’t know it.” We laughed but she had a point. After a moment I told her yes, I would come!
The worship celebration was amazing. I met some wonderful people whom I am still in contact with today. Kellie began the closing prayer, stopped mid-prayer and called out my name. She informed the attendees about our encounter. She proceeded to pray the prayer that I had prayed. I wanted God to illuminate the test answers for me. That night, He let me know that everything was all right. Once I got home, I could not get to sleep. I was on a spiritual high.
The next morning, I completed the exam with 40 minutes to spare.
Now came the wait time for the score. It normally took eight to 10 weeks. During that time, I worked on obtaining clinical hours. In late December 2014, I began seeing my classmates post their passing scores on social media. They told me to go online to get my score. After several deep breaths, I reminded myself that I had already passed, and going on the website was just confirmation. When I saw the message of a passing score, I screamed and hollered, “YES!”
Now I could complete my clinical hours and submit my LPC application.
Getting the ‘no’
After completing my hours, I submitted my application in August 2015. Several weeks later, I noticed a cream-colored envelope in my mailbox. I thought, “Is this my congratulatory letter from the board?”
When I finished scanning the letter, I could feel joy transforming into disbelief. What do you mean, denied? Why do I need a hearing? After composing myself, I wrote a letter requesting a hearing. After a few months, the day came; I had all of my supporting documentation and I felt as if I answered the questions to the best of my ability. But as I left, I did not feel a “yes” in my spirit.
A few weeks later, my oldest daughter called to inform me that I had a letter from the board. I asked her to read it to me. She did, yet the words were not making sense to me. I asked her to send me a copy of the letter. There, the words that were holding me hostage: “Get a thousand more hours and resubmit your application.”
From grumbling to growth
I called one of my professors, Dr. Hall, and vented. The board had told me not enough of my hours were supervised. (To this day, I’m still not sure how they came up with 1,000 hours.)
After a few moments, Dr. Hall interjected: “Get your paperwork together, bring the letter and meet me next week.” October 10, 2015 was the beginning of the best days of my professional life. Dr. Hall agreed to supervise me as I completed 1,000 more supervised hours.
Ten months later, I obtained the 1,000 hours. But hours were not all I gained. Dr. Hall poured into me until I started operating in my purpose. I was pushed to present at professional conferences. I learned so much about myself, had some of my thoughts and behaviors challenged, let go of the fear of not being good enough, and grew beyond my disappointment from the “no.”
I also completed my doctoral degree on this journey and in my dissertation, I acknowledged Dr. Fred Hall with these words: “Dr. Hall, I would like to especially thank you for continued support beyond this project. You started out as a professor, and evolved into a mentor. You will never know the impact that you have had on my life and those that I touch. I will continue to soar like an eagle and yes, the air is different at this altitude.”
I obtained my counseling license while I experienced my professor becoming my mentor and, more importantly, my friend. For that, I am forever grateful for my “no.”
Talya Straughter is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in the Ridgeland area. She can be reached at 601.952.0515 ext.4 or firstname.lastname@example.org.