Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The L to my CSW

In 2012 I finished collecting my hours towards licensure & at the end of that year I was approved to take the Written Standard for the CA LCSW.  My first attempt was at the end of April in 2013, missed it by a lot.  Second attempt was February of 2014 & I missed it by 3. I forgot my water bottle at the testing center & when I got home I cried so hard.

My third attempt was September of 2014 & I missed it by 6.  The fourth attempt was in May 2015 & I missed it by 7.  I had an opportunity to take that same exam before the end of that year, but as you can imagine I was depressed & frustrated so I opted to wait for the new exams. 

I took the LCSW California Law & Ethics on February 2, 2016 & I received my pass letter 6 weeks later. It took 2 months (give or take) to get my information from the BBS to ASWB. Yesterday, on May 10, 2016 I took the Clinical Examination with the ASWB (National Exam) and PASSED!!! 

I used several study companies to prepare for the exams. I started with BTA or the Berkeley Training Associates. After I took the exam, I didn't feel the information mimicked the exam. A lot of my friends used AATBS so I switched, that & a friend gave me all her material after she passed. I used that for the next 2 times, it was information overload & as I found out the exam wasn't about memorization, it's clinical justifications. So after a friend's recommendation I checked out TDC or Therapist Development Center.  It made sense, I was "getting it" but not quite at the same time...if that makes any sense. However, I really felt that TDC was there for you, so I stuck with them. 

TDC was more interactive, they even email you back when you have questions. At one point I had a phone appointment (for the fourth attempt). Before I took the fourth attempt I changed jobs. Mostly because I was coming up on my 5 year deadline at the prison, but a secondary gain was I needed more clinical experience & Crisis was an ideal place to get the in your face experience that I lacked. 

I would have to say that a combination of TDC & Crisis (for me) helped me pass the exams. I practiced what I learned from TDC at work. Every ethical dilemma I had, I referred back to the Code of Ethics (COE), I used colleagues to bounce off ideas & I probably over studied. I'm sure I second guessed myself, since I always do that. For the ASWB I started reading up during the summer before TDC updated the material. Actually, before they updated the L&E I scoured the Internet for any material I could get my hands on (besides the NASW COE). I also used Social Work Test Practice (SWTP) for both of the exams because I wanted to practice as much as I could.   While I waited for the BBS to move my info over to the ASWB I also started taking Jerry Grossman practice exams. You can say I was anxious. Just a little. 

It took a lot of time, money & effort to get my LCSW. After all the expensive "practice testing" I was getting depressed, but I never said it. My boyfriend could tell, maybe my colleagues? My friends who understood the process encouraged me, those that didn't told me to study harder & that just pissed me off.  Word of advice, if you don't know about something, don't give your opinion.  I even had people ask me what I was going to do? I don't learn like everyone else & I don't take standard  testing well, thankfully my grades were high enough for when I was accepted to SJSU & I proved myself to Rutgers & got in on the second try. Neither needed an exam score either, thankfully. 

I had to reach outside of my usual "tools" to get my license. I searched out for a therapist & worked with her for the first exam. She was very helpful in guiding me towards my goals, amonust other things.  I even saw a shaman.  I always have to do extra work to reach my goals. You should see what I do to get ready for races. I work hard at everything I do, nothing ever came easy for me. 

So now as I look back at my probably more than 4 year journey (not counting school or collecting hours), I wouldn't change it. I have learned how to be a better therapist because I was forced to learn & re-learn everything. I do not take anything for granted, & I won't going forward. 

People have asked me what I'm going to do next. I'd like to obtain a specialty, get specialized in CBT & DBT. Eventually have a side private practice? Maybe. The doors have finally opened for me. 

I wanted to thank people for putting up with me & for being there with me on this journey. There is someone I can't personally thank, but I know she knows. She was always so supportive & wanted to help me. I think she helped me more than she knew. So I'm not going to name names, you all know who you are. Thank you for the experience, for listening & for pushing me forward. Those that kept encouraging me to keep at it because they saw it in me. Thank you, it helped me keep pushing forward. It helped so so very much. 

Thank you all & thanks for reading! 

E. Esporo, MSW, LCSW

These pictures are never flattering, I'm all chinky eye'd. 

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