Meet Alex Faust, B.A., Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student

Name: Alex Faust

Age: 26

Program: UAB Counselor Education Program

Major: Counseling

Track: Clinical Mental Health

Hometown: Homewood, AL

 

Mickeah: What is one thing you love about Birmingham? 

Alex: I love that Birmingham is becoming more diverse and open with each year. There are so many different cultures and people to get to know on and off campus, and I can always find an amazing new restaurant to eat at!  

 

Mickeah: If you could tell your old high school self one thing, what would it be? 

Alex: I would tell my high school self not to put so much pressure on deciding what my career should be. I spent most of my high school senior year and two years of undergrad stressing about choosing my major. I weighed the pros and cons of each field of study at my undergraduate institution, including the chances I would be hired in a full-time, benefits eligible job as soon as I graduated. Almost eight years later, I can confidently say I am on the right career path for me!  

 

Mickeah: If you could describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?

Alex: Empathetic, perceptive, dedicated  

 

Mickeah: In 7 years, where do you hope to be in your life? 

Alex: If I continue down my current path, I hope to be finishing (or hopefully finished with) a doctoral program in Counseling Psychology or Clinical Psychology. I also want to pursue having mental health services integrated into primary health care offices and clinics once I am a licensed/certified clinician. There are very few outpatient mental health services within primary health care practices. I believe taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health, so let’s make it easier for patients to access mental health services by having them within medical clinics/facilities/practices for quick referrals and less travel time!  

 

Mickeah: What played a significant role in your decision to apply for your program? 

Alex: I had just graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and was working with young adults with special needs teaching them job and life skills. The more I worked with my clients, the more I noticed these clients and their families needed mental health services from family therapy to individual therapy to education about puberty and social etiquette. I wanted to be a person who could provide these services to clients like mine, so I started researching training programs online. I stumbled on the UAB Counselor Education Program website and applied to their clinical mental health track after applying to other programs for mental health counseling and vocational rehabilitation counseling. I ultimately decided on UAB and have been provided with a wealth of knowledge and clinical experience in mental health counseling from a multicultural perspective.  

 

Mickeah: What is a day in the life of a graduate student in your program like?

Alex:  BUSY. The last leg of my program requires me to complete a 700-hour clinical internship that I began in the fall 2018 semester and have continued into the spring semester. On a good day, I spend at least 4 hours at my internship site at Children’s Hospital then head over to Dr. Karen Cropsey’s research lab in the UAB Department of Psychiatry to work on different projects and studies. Some days I get to leave Dr. Cropsey’s lab and go home, but most evenings I leave the lab and head to my graduate classes or to my martial arts class. I have a lot on my plate right now, but I have definitely learned how to manage my time better in order to take care of school, work, and myself as a graduate student.  

 

Mickeah: In this field, what is your area of interest? 

Alex: I want to work with and research ways to provide better mental health care to children and adolescent clients who have special needs and their family members. I have a sibling with special needs, so I have personal experience with the challenges and obstacles that these families face as well as a lack of research into how having a child with special needs can change family dynamics. I also have personal experience with the lack of services my sibling has to help with understanding emotions, personality, cognition, behaviors, and development. There are few mental health clinicians statewide and nationwide who work with or research the mental health aspect of people with disabilities as well as with their family members, so I want to become a mental health resource as well as continue researching how these families cope and change as the person with special needs ages in order to provide better mental health care services for them.  

 

Mickeah: What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being in this program? 

Alex: The most rewarding aspect of being in my program is having the opportunity to work with my clinical supervisor at Children’s Hospital during my clinical internship. My supervisor is a practicing therapist, adjunct professor, and program manager, so she is well equipped to guide me in working with my clients. She treats me as if I am an equal rather than a therapist in training, and my supervision sessions with her are always filled with laughter and learning opportunities.  

 

Mickeah: What is one piece of advice you could give to students coming behind you with the aspirations of pursuing this career? 

Alex: I would tell students wanting to pursue a career in mental health counseling to start cultivating the mindset of “helping” instead of “fixing” people. It has taken many years for me to accept that mindset, but I feel less stressed out with clients, friends, colleagues, and family now that I aim to help them find a way to help themselves since it is more rewarding to them and for me at the end of the day!