Interviewing Anxiety

Last thursday I handed in my final graduating essay to my advisor; with a click of the send button I had finished the last requirement of my MSW degree.

With excitement I called my husband and let him know the good news.  With this newfound freedom I celebrated with a visit to a cafe and more phone calls to my family back home.

The next day while at a massage therapy appointment my cell phone rang; who would be calling me?  I had a few ideas, but relatively few people have my phone number so I was curious.

To my astonishment I got a call for an interview for a casual counsellor position from a local treatment program for women that is unique in providing trauma-informed care to women with multiple barriers.

I had applied to this job with little expectation that I would get an interview; I simply applied because I have long wanted to work with women in addiction using a trauma informed approach.  I do not have particular employment experience specifically with women so I was surprised to get this call.

At first I felt elation then later anxiety.  Anxiety for a number of compounding reasons.  I was worried that I would be stumped by difficult questions.  I was worried as it is coming up within a matter of days without much time to prepare, let alone buy a few new clothes, hair cut.  More than anything I need some new glasses and contact lenses; for the past few months I have been wearing broken glasses taped together with black electrical tape.  I have been so busy being a mom and a student that I haven’t even had time to buy things for “me”!

I was also worried strangely enough because the future was now much more uncertain- with me perhaps having to make difficult choices. It was hinted that I would be interviewed for a casual position in counselling at my mental health practicum that I had applied for two weeks earlier.  I had already set my course on that potential job, excited to see old colleagues when this possibility came up. Now I felt quite anxious not only about a difficult interview but potentially having to choose between this new position and the opportunity to work somewhere that I had grown to feel comfortable and would have the opportunity to  learn more about providing therapy to people with a variety of conditions.

Writing about my anxieties makes them feel trivial- likely I will get a job, the bills will be paid and I will continue to learn and grow in social work/therapy.  However, nonetheless these thoughts have dominated my head over the last day and a half as I have dwelt on the repercussions of one choice or another.

What helped with the anxiety?  Strangely enough not mindfulness but reading: reading about women, substance abuse and trauma brought me a lot of excitement which made me feel encouraged to study and put my best foot forward for this upcoming interview. And now my anxiety is at a record low.  Now just to care of the essentials: hair cut, interview outfit, contact lenses, and interview prep (ok that one still causes me a little bit of anxiety).

So if you were a therapist, what was the technique I used?  What helped me get through this?

In a concluding note: I am extremely grateful and blessed to have made it through this journey through my MSW.  As many of you know, midway through my first year of the program I found out that I was expecting a baby- surprise!  God’s planning, I call it.  I took one year off from studies- missed graduating with my original cohort.  However, God has provided, finances, work, everything I needed, and learning opportunities.  With his strength I have completed the finances and engaged in the learning gradually taking the courage to integrate my faith into my understanding.  It has been a wild journey, not without bumps but I’m glad I’ve made it through this leg of the journey intact (and thriving, and happy- with a healthy dose of anxiety here and there).

Approaching the finish line

I am  writing a short post to let you know it is that time of the year.  I’m at the end of the semester and working hard to finish my last graduating essay of my MSW program. 

It’s been a journey; the practical hands-on learning has opened new doors for me to work in an area that I’m passionate about: mental health and addiction, as well as counselling. 

Unfortunately, I do not think this program has been “enough”.  I want to learn so much more and gain more clinical skills.  That’s one reason I’m going to keep learning via workshops, books, colleagues- and through the discussion of this blog.  I appreciate the role many of you have paid in my learning as I endeavored to integrate my faith and understanding of social work.

But for now I have to hit the books and keep going!!