Ahou Line is a therapist who is currently pursuing a PhD in Counselor Education at UNT. She graduated from Simmons with a Master of Science in Counseling in 2018.
What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?
After graduating from SMU in May of 2018, I began practicing as a mental health therapist in a private practice in Dallas. I was able to provide mental health services to clients of all ages including children, adolescents, and adults. I especially enjoyed getting to provide play therapy services to younger children and adored working with parents.
In August of 2019, I returned to school while still maintaining my career in the private practice and began my journey through a doctoral program at the University of North Texas. I am working toward my PhD in Counselor Education and hope to complete this program by May of 2023. In 2021, I chose to leave private practice and am currently working full time as a doctoral student and graduate assistant.
2021 has been incredibly meaningful for me because all aspects of the doctoral program I am currently embarking on are allowing me to work toward my ultimate goal of teaching in a counseling graduate program. For example, through my role as a graduate assistant, I have developed (and currently) teach an 8-week Culture Centered Social and Emotional Learning course for all undergraduate education majors.
The course centers on the impact of culture in the classroom, the use of mindfulness and contemplative practices as a teacher, and how to provide social and emotional learning through instruction. This role marries my love for counseling and my experiences as a classroom teacher. This spring, I will embark on a research project to investigate the impact of this course on undergraduate students.
There are many rewarding aspects to this career. I love the fact that I get to provide direct impact through counseling (I still provide play therapy services within the elementary schools in Denton) and that I get to see the broader impact of my work through education. I love hearing from former students and supervisees to see how my curriculum or supervision has impacted their counseling with their own clients. My favorite part of my job is that I am never bored.
The counseling field has so many facets, and I find that I enjoy all of them which allows me to weave in and out of different roles daily. For example, some days I may be a student in a class, a professor teaching other students, a counselor, and a supervisor!
What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?
There are so many aspects of my education at Simmons for which I am grateful. I would say the biggest thing that I continue to marvel at is the alumni support and connections I have made through the program. Some of my absolute best friends are people I met through my time at SMU. Beyond the personal connections, the professional connections I have made and maintained as a result of being a Simmons student are unmatched.
The counseling profession can be a small one, and I have had many professional experiences where our shared connections are a colleague or professor at SMU. In this field, word of mouth is so incredibly important, and I believe I would not be where I am in my career without the connections I have made as a Simmons alumna.
How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?
I often have students ask me about my opinions about choosing a graduate program for counseling and have to consider this question. Simmons provided me not only a didactic educational experience when it came to counseling, but I can truly say that every professor I had at SMU also prepared me for the career in counseling (which I believe are two very different things). I have pages and pages of notes from my time at SMU about what our professors would do in real world experiences.
I am so appreciative of this because these things cannot be taught in a textbook. I loved that my professors at SMU were clinically focused and were incredible therapists on top of being incredible professors. Throughout the practical experiences I had at SMU, I learned so much about what it means to be a strong therapist. I have been able to use this learning not only to impact my own career as a counselor but also to guide my approach to teaching at the graduate level. I want to emulate what my own professors were able to do for me as a student.
What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?
As I mentioned above, I truly enjoyed my coursework at SMU because I believe that everything we learned was so practical. For students considering SMU for their counseling program, I always think about the professional networking opportunities I had as a student. In fact, the private practice I joined following graduation was a result of one of these opportunities.
Another highlight I had as an SMU student was the ability to serve the community. As a student, I served as the president of The Association of Student Counselors, and one of our events was to volunteer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk. It was such an incredible experience to partner with other students and faculty to participate in such a meaningful event.
Furthermore, SMU provided us with many opportunities for our careers post-graduation. I especially enjoyed all of the work our faculty put into hosting career and internship fairs both for students and alumni. Even now, those experiences I had at SMU have helped me tremendously in my career because our faculty understands the importance of networking and meeting other mental health professionals in the field.
Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?
I will always consider Simmons my professional home because it was there that I began the career with which I have fallen so deeply in love. Prior to counseling, I was a middle school teacher and then worked as a director in a non-profit.
Though both careers were meaningful, it wasn’t until my time at Simmons that I learned my worth and my true calling in a profession. Simmons always has a way of celebrating their students and understanding their worth. In my time as a student, I felt truly seen by my professors and believed that they always saw my utmost potential.
Now as an alumna, I continue to feel the same way. Since graduating, I have had the honor of speaking at our commencement ceremony and participating in countless alumni events including networking lunches, football games, and other professional opportunities.
With Dean Knight and Greg Weatherford at the helm, I continuously feel celebrated and honored as an alum. In fact, I recently had my first child, and was honored to have her celebrated through Simmons with her own SMU gear (including the cutest SMU onesie). It is experiences like these that make me feel honored to claim Simmons as my home and recommend this program to anyone considering a career in counseling.