Five Journeys, Part I

Click to view the pdf of Five Journeys, One Destination: Part I
Click here to read Five Journeys, One Destination: Part 1 in the Therapist Magazine

  • Levis, R.V. (2013). Five Journeys, One Destination: Part One. The Therapist, 25(4), 20-27.

The idea for “Five Journeys, One Destination” was born out of an essay that Rajani wrote as a prelicensee back in 2Stairway004. As adjunct faculty, and as a therapist in private practice, Rajani often encounters prelicensees who are thirsty for first-hand information about the journey to licensure. Recently, she invited four of her colleagues to share their lively and multifaceted perspectives on this important rite of passage for therapists. Laura Siniego Benenati helped to expand the scope of this essay into a three part series, Kristina Blachere suggested the title and everyone generously contributed words and ideas. Rajani welcomes questions, comments and feedback from prelicensees (and others) via email at therapy [at] levistherapy [dot] com

Five Journeys, One Destination

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

Martin Buber’s famous quote formed the inspiration for five therapists to come together and share travel stories of their own unique journey to licensure. We invite you on a three part expedition that begins in places far and near with one common goal, a California MFT license. In Part I, you will meet the travelers from Argentina, Czech Republic, India, California and Massachusetts who recount their aspirations, their struggles and their hero’s journey that earned them those three precious letters at the end of their names. In Part II, they share their fears, their hopes and the study techniques and tips that helped them to pass the licensing exam. And finally in Part III, each of them honors the pivotal events that shaped the trajectory of their career and helped them to find their niche.

We hope that as you read these travelogs, you too will be inspired to discover your own secret destination on this journey.

The Scenic Road to Licensure

Rajani Venkatraman Levis, MS, MFT, PPS

The Map

When I graduated in 2005, I was so sure that I would just keep plugging away at those 3000 hours and then be licensed in just over two years and home free. I started down the path full steam ahead, but what happened soon thereafter was something I felt too ashamed to even really explore at that time: overwhelm, fear and burnout. I felt way in over my head trying to manage the caseload and case management involved in setting up a program at two middle schools, which included providing wraparound services to the families of 40 students.

At the Crossroads

Finally, I decided to put my needs ahead of everyone else’s and take some of the self-care advice that I so freely gave away! I decided to take time for myself and do the one thing I had always wanted to do: travel!

The Secret Destination

During the course of my travels, I spent time in India, my homeland. This allowed me to begin integrating my childhood memories and culture of origin, with my adult life and professional training in the West. An opportunity emerged for me to volunteer my time helping to set up a mental health clinic in Kerala. Not only did I have the privilege of learning from my Indian colleagues through co-therapy sessions and consultation, it also allowed me to further integrate my professional and personal identities. The hidden gift was an invitation to be published!  “Dancing Naked on the Bridge”, a case study based on this experience was published in Praeger’s Handbook of Community Mental Health Practice earlier this year.

My compass

Instead of talking about what helped me stay the course, I’d like to talk about what let me step away: A dedicated mindfulness practice, a supportive community of family and friends, and my mentors gave me permission to step away from the field and take care of myself. The encouragement to step away, allowed me to return to the field with renewed vigor and find the niche that I had been looking for.

Travel advice

Take your own advice:

  • Focus on self-care: Learn about vicarious resilience and trauma stewardship and apply what you learn judiciously.
  • Follow your dreams: I took a year to travel and in the course of my travels, I was able to begin integrating some of my life experiences with my education. Today, this allows me to be more authentic in my practice with my clients.
  • Take your Time: In this age of hurry, it is hard to recognize that each of us has our own unique sense of timing, especially with regards to finding our life’s vocation. When I applied for a second intern registration number, I was finally at peace with the idea that you don’t become a therapist overnight, or even in 2, 3 or 5 years; it truly is the work of a lifetime!


 Meet the Travelers:

Rajani Venkatraman Levis, MS, PPS, MFT

Withrajani_office almost two decades of cross-cultural experiences in living, studying, and working on two continents, Rajani brings a richly multicultural perspective to her work as a therapist. Rajani is a traveler and a certified EMDR therapist who has found a way to integrate her two passions. She now finds her bliss in helping clients (especially prelicensees) discover what brings them alive and encouraging them on their unique journey.

Laura Siniego Benenati, MA, MFT

Born in laura-officeArgentina, raised in Mexico and redefined as a psychotherapist in California, Laura is a chef, an artist, a mother, a psicologa, an English language learner, an EMDR trained therapist and a bilingual family clinician.

Laura speaks the nuanced language of flavors in the kitchen, the language of color on the canvas and the language of compassionate process in the therapeutic context.

KristKristina_officeina Blachere, MA, MFT

Kristina Blachere, MFT, is a psychotherapist, consultant, and writer. She has a private practice in San Francisco, where she uses somatic and mindfulness techniques to help introverts (and others) reduce anxiety and self-criticism and accept themselves just as they are.

Nicole Dadasovich, MA, MFT

Born and ranicole-officeised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nicole has over 15 years of experience working as teacher, counselor and administrator for both elementary and high school students. This work has included: Spanish language and literature instruction; nutrition, drug/alcohol and sexuality education; career and college planning; and coaching for people with social skills struggles.  She also has extensive experience working with adults on relationship issues and life transitions.

Veronika Gold, MA, MFT

PassioVeronikaGoldoffice2nate, dedicated, and innovative, Veronika is an EMDR and EFT trained psychotherapist certified to teach the Subtle Self Work aspect of The Realization Process. Born under the communist rule in the Czech Republic before making California her home, she has traveled the world and learned from people of diverse cultures. Spiritual practice is an important part of her life that shapes her approach to therapy.