So, now that I have completed my MS in Psychology I am eager to begin 2 year my internship to get my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. So far I have been met with a lot of dead ends.
Every position I have been offered has been a volunteer position or one that will not provide my supervised hours in my field. While money is somewhat of a concern, I am more concerned about getting my license so I can actually counsel ADF members and their families without concern for their privacy.
Right now if someone comes to me for counseling I have to tell them upfront that their communication with me may not be privileged under CA law because ADF does not have a tradition of penitential communication. Penitential communication means, “a communication made in confidence, in the presence of no third person so far as the penitent is aware, to a member of the clergy who, in the course of the discipline or practice of the clergy member's church, denomination, or organization, is authorized or accustomed to hear those communications and, under the discipline or tenets of his or her church, denomination, or organization, has a duty to keep those communications secret (California Evidence Code 1032)."
Since ADF doesn't have a practice of hearing these types of communications, communications between ADF member and Priest are not privileged. Communications made in front of a third party, such as a domestic partner are also not privileged even if that person is related to you. So marriage and family counseling is only protected if the priest is also a licensed marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
This is the real reason why I got the MS in Psychology in the first place. So I could help the Pagan community by developing quality pastoral counseling programs for its ministry. I guess I'm on my way, but I have some time to go yet. Another 2 years as an intern and I could actually pull this off.
The next step after this is to get an accredited pastoral counseling program for Pagan ministers off the ground or, if someone else has done so by then, join them and help them keep it going.
If I finish my internship and discover there are no accredited programs for Pagans yet, then I hope to start my Pagan seminary/retreat center or join an existing one that has similar goals. I've already developed a program, modeled after existing programs, that I believe will earn accreditation easily, provided I can find qualified professors to teach the program.
In the meantime I will be volunteering as a counselor at our local Vet Center while working part time for the county as a veterans service representative. If/when a part-time or full-time paid position opens up at the Vet Center I'll probably be the first on their list. I'll continue to bide my time until then, because working with veterans is obviously also very fulfilling to me. I am a disabled veteran myself and have been working in veterans services for about six years now.
So wish me luck on this new path. I feel that this is something I was really called to do, so hopefully I will be pointed in the right direction soon.