Alicia M. Lambert, M.S.Ed., PLMHP, PLADC
AmeriCorps Grant Recipient
Degrees and Specialties
I graduated high school in 2013 from Southern Valley High School. I earned my B.S. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2015 and my M.S.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in December 2018. I currently am a Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP) and a Provisionally Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PLADC). My main interest is working with severe and persistent mental illness and I have a lot of experience working with children.
Tell me about your internship in Scottsbluff at Regional West Medical Center, how did that come about?
In order to graduate and get licensed, I had to complete a 600 hour internship. I chose to do my internship at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff so that I could be closer to my family. After deciding to take this internship opportunity, I also learned about AmeriCorps, which offered me a grant for interning in the panhandle. I worked as an intern on the inpatient behavioral health unit, where I was given supervision on becoming a counselor. I had the opportunity to work with a wide range of different patients ranging from ages 4 to 92. I had the chance to see almost every mental illness diagnosis and gained a lot of experience in crisis intervention. I absolutely loved my internship and it is what opened the door for me to have a job afterward in the same location.
How did the AmeriCorps grant help with your internship?
AmeriCorps' goal is to serve critical needs in the community. The AmeriCorps grant helped me with my internship because it offered me a monthly living stipend in addition to an overall education grant that I could use for either loan repayment or tuition reimbursement. Most internships are unpaid, so this really helped out when it came to finances. It provided an advantage that I wouldn't have had at a lot of other internship sites.
What would you say was the greatest help you got to get you to where you are?
I would say the greatest help that got me to where I am now is other practitioners in the field. This includes my professors at UNK, my clinical supervisors, and other experienced providers in the mental health field that I work in. They are supportive of me and always offer advice when I need it. I can bounce ideas off of them and they can tell me areas where I can improve and encourage me in areas I am doing well in. I couldn't do this job without the supervision of more experienced practitioners. This career is like an apprenticeship and I am constantly learning from my formal supervisors and other mental health professionals I work alongside.
What advice would you give to someone currently studying to go into your field?
I would give the advice to take care of yourself. It is important to make sure that you are healthy first so that you can help other people. Because burn out is such a huge problem in the helping field, self-care is incredibly important. Additionally, I would say don't be too hard on yourself. There were many times where I first started out counseling that I would criticize myself too much or constantly feel like I wasn't good enough to be in the field. It's okay to feel this way sometimes, but you have to remember that you are constantly learning and you weren't put in this training or schooling by accident -- you were put here because professors trust your judgment and your ability to do the job, so give yourself some credit and trust yourself!
Where you work now and your title?
I currently work part-time as a Clinical Therapist at the Behavioral Health Unit at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, which is an inpatient unit. I also work part-time as a mental health therapist at Morrill Elementary School.
How long have you been working where you are working now?
Because I graduated and received my licenses in December 2018, I have been working at Morrill Elementary School since the beginning of this semester. I have been officially employed as a Clinical Therapist at the Regional West Medical Center since January, but have been working as an intern there and doing the same duties since May 2018.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The thing I enjoy most about my work is watching people get better. As a counselor, I get the rare opportunity to meet people in their pain. They share some of their darkest moments with me that they haven't shared with anyone before. It humbles me that I get the opportunity to help them work through this and to just be someone that can be there for them. Seeing them improve and slowly start to feel better reminds me of why I chose to go into this field. If I can help do this for even just one patient or client, then I believe my entire job is worth it.
Did you grow up in Nebraska/panhandle?
I grew up in the town of Beaver City, Nebraska which is in the southwestern part of the state. This is also a really small town and an underserved area when it comes to mental health services. However, my family moved to the panhandle after I graduated high school, so moving to the panhandle in 2018 was entirely new to me! I discovered that I absolutely love the area and find it incredibly beautiful. This is one of the reasons why I decided to stay here.
What made you want to work in the panhandle of Nebraska?
Initially, working in the panhandle made sense because I had a scholarship to do so and my family lived in the panhandle. However, once I moved out here and started working, I realized I had a passion to stay here because of the desperate need. There is a major shortage of mental health services in the panhandle and it truly makes me sad how much services are needed, yet lacking. It humbles me that I get to help out in an area where services are desperately needed. I wake up each day getting the chance to know that I am adding one more mind and body to this force.
What are your future plans?
As far as future plans go, I will be starting a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology in the fall of 2019. This is 5 more years of schooling. These programs are incredibly competitive and I am excited that I have been accepted into multiple schools. I believe my experience working with an underserved population in the panhandle has helped me prepare to branch out and bring my experience with diversity to the classroom setting again. I hope to be able to continue to serve underserved populations throughout my future schooling and once I have earned my next degree.