McConaha at ACA
McConaha (left) at the ACA conference.
Melissa McConaha recently began a Ph.D. program at Auburn University, and she believes the practical experiences gained while earning a master's degree in clinical counseling at EIU were vital to her preparation for this course of study.
McConaha, who finished up at EIU in May 2012, completed practicum and internship experiences at Moultrie County Counseling Center in Sullivan, where two of the full-time staff members happened to be Eastern alumni.
"The clients with whom I worked closely had a wide range of presenting issues and diagnoses, which helped me gain knowledge as well as a deeper understanding of my own professional identity," said McConaha, whose doctoral degree will be in counselor education and supervision.
"Without the opportunity to work with and learn from the staff at MCCC and without the comprehensive supervision and support from EIU's faculty, I would not have been prepared – or possibly qualified – for this doctoral program."
Additionally, the clinical counseling curriculum at EIU incorporates licensure requirements; products of the program are license-eligible upon graduation and have all the necessary documents to quickly obtain a license.
"Because I am licensed in the state of Illinois, I'm also employed at a private practice in Georgia working with private clients as well as with Troup County's Federal Adult Drug Court," explained McConaha.
Looking back to her time at EIU and MCCC, McConaha has nothing but glowing reviews.
"I was able to work with a very diverse population and had intensive supervision both on-site and with EIU supervisors," she said. "The faculty at EIU has modeled how to foster valuable relationships with community agencies, as evidenced by the extensive list of practicum and internship sites available."
McConaha also worked directly for Drs. Steven Conn and Heidi Larson at EIU, getting involved in research projects, publications, grant-writing opportunities, teaching, supervising first-year master's degree students.
"These opportunities, in addition to the support, challenges and experiences offered by my mentor, Dr. Larson, not only helped me become a more well-rounded clinician, but also helped me identify my professional aspirations," said McConaha, whose career goal is to become a professor within a master's-level CACREP program.
"EIU's program and staff have exemplified the kind of professional I wish to be. The faculty is unfailingly caring, competent, professional and effective. They are invested in their students and advocate for our profession."