Serendipity

I tried to enter therapy in the summer of 1996 with a guy who saw patients on Staten Island on the weekends.

The health insurance plan authorized only five visits because I had a preexisting condition: I was diagnosed with schizophrenia so the health plan wouldn’t allow me to see a therapist.

At the second visit I told Dr. B that I was in danger of losing yet another job in the insurance field. Miraculously, he told me he was a career counselor to upper level executives in Manhattan Monday to Friday. He told me he would do vocational assessment with me so that I could find a better job.

Dr. B gave me the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and gave me vocational quizzes to answer. By the fifth and last session he gave me career options to consider. That’s how I decided to go back to school to get a Masters in Library and Information Science.

Accepted at all three library schools I chose Pratt Institute and graduated in June 2000 with an M.S.

I’ll always be grateful for this random accident in meeting a therapist who turned out to be a career counselor.

This experience has influenced me to champion that a person diagnosed with a mental illness gets practical career counseling right from the start of their recovery.

Square pegs shouldn’t be forced into round holes:  This happened when the OVR state agency counselor in 1989 shunted me into training to become a secretary because I was female. No useful vocational assessment was given to me.

Imagine that: the health insurance plan told a person diagnosed with an emotional illness that she couldn’t see a therapist. You must remember that the Affordable Care Act guarantees that everyone can buy insurance even those of us with preexisting conditions.

I kid you not. I was denied therapy. And like I said miraculously I was able to get career counseling instead of therapy.

Ever since I started looking for my first job in 1990 I’ve had an unusual interest in creating resumes to help people get jobs. One guy I helped got a job as a dentist. A woman got a supervisor job. Another woman got a job as a secretary.

You should absolutely check in with your local neighborhood library to see if a librarian at a branch in their system helps people create resumes.. This is a free service that doesn’t cost you a dime. Check it out.

I would like to send a letter or e-mail to Dr. B telling him I’m eternally grateful that he was the catalyst in speeding up my route to having a better life outcome.

I will talk in future blog entries about finding the work you love and would be good at.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

One thought on “Serendipity”

  1. Wonderful, wonderful story, Christina. Yes, by all means, try to contact this person – show him this particular post, too. To think you were denied coverage, by dint of a preexisting condition is painful to contemplate. Thank goodness times are changing.
    Grateful for your blog, Chris.
    Leslie in Baltimore

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