Unlike in undergrad, where it wasn’t unusual to have at least one exam every week, we are now finishing up the 7th week of the semester for our CMHC program and have yet to have a single exam.

The only exams we have are midterms and finals that are required  in each course. The professors believe that our assignments that entail going out in the field, as well as the presentations and workshops we’re putting together for the classes on ethical dilemmas and cultural diversity demonstrate what we’ve learned over the past few weeks much more accurately than responses on multiple choice exams and a few essay questions.

I certainly (and very happily!) agree.

After all, in the field of mental health, there isn’t always going to be a single right answer or response to a certain situation with a client. Each individual that steps into your office is just that – an individual – they all have different backgrounds, different belief and value systems and find themselves in different circumstances. So, what could be the appropriate “answer” when working with one client could be completely wrong with another. And for that matter, there will often be cases that call for consultation with colleagues. If you’re ever unsure about where to go with a client, consult is always a wise option and a reminder than you’re not alone – it is better (and by the way – an ethical obligation) to ask if you don’t know what to do than to give an educated guess as if you were taking an exam. Counseling is a collaborative effort between the professional, the client, and often the involved supervisor. It is only with experience in the “real world” and assessing the outcomes of our efforts, even at this pre-professional stage, that we’re truly able to demonstrate what we’ve picked up through our studies.