Career Story: Court-Appointed Domestic Violence Counselor

Court-Appointed Domestic Violence Counselor

Job Title: Family Counselor

Type of Company: My agency assists the court, families, and individuals.

Education: MSW

Previous Experience: I worked with the mentally and physically challenged, then with child protective services, and I now work with individuals who are involved in domestic violence and families who are involved in custody disputes.

Job Tasks: On a typical day I do intake interviews and assessments of situations and safety, and I make recommendations to the court about protective orders in cases that involve allegations of domestic violence. I also refer individuals to service providers and other counselors; negotiate custody, access, property, and financial matters; and mediate and evaluate custody disputes. The evaluations I do include interviewing children, conducting home visits, and gathering information from various collateral contacts. If a case goes to trial, I sometimes have to testify.

I work with attorneys, victim's advocates, clerks, community treatment providers and social workers from the Department of Children and Families. A typical day can also include scheduled interviews, telephone calls and report writing.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Report writing and filtering people's anger are the worst parts of the job. The best parts of the job are the relationships with co-workers, and those moments when you know you've made a difference in someone's life.

Job Tips:
1. Become a veteran.

2. A probation officer's job requires only a four year degree and provides you with hazardous duty retirement (I could be retired by now!)

3. Seriously, find your niche and go for it. You should like your job. In my 20's my mantra was, "I don't want to be 40 years old and looking back on my career choice with regret." So choose carefully, and choose a career in which you can find work (one that's in demand) wherever you decide to live, especially in this difficult economy.

Additional Thoughts: Nothing much surprises me anymore. If I could change how I approached my career I'd go to college directly after high school and take more time to explore the different opportunities within the same discipline. Internships are a great way to try a job out before you decide to make it a career.

The most important personal qualities for success in my job are life experience, empathy, conflict management skills, and being able to separate from the job at the end of the day.

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