It was a huge surprise, and really flattering.
A lead psychologist working for the Minneapolis Veteran's Administration Hospital Center called a couple of weeks ago to recruit me for a part-time job. I am exactly what she wanted, she said: a licensed therapist who is/was also clergy. No one, other than myself and my smallish circle of family, friends and clients, think that my double expertise is anything remarkable. To have someone outside my circle seek my particular set of education, experience and interest and ask me to work for them was, well, a first.
After days of thinking, reading, talking, prayer and observation of my own reactions, I've said yes to the work. I'll be trained in a research protocol, leading a small group of soldiers who are suffering with PTSD to use their own spiritual resources to assist in their recovery. I will lead the group in a church in my area of the cities, and go up to the VA weekly to join in consultation group of the therapists who are also leading the various protocol groups in this research study. I expect to bring all my experience to bear, enjoy helping meet the needs of soldiers and building new relationships with colleagues I will come to know.
What has me a bit unsure is how the rhythm of these new hours of work for the VA will fit into my private practice. I have imagined the best I can how to work that out, and requested those hours as those hours I can work. So far, every effort has been made to honor my request. I trust that experience will continue as the groups get scheduled, and I go through my training. You can probably imagine the pile of paperwork that is required to join - even at a 6-8 hours a week - the VA as an employee. 40 pages of repetitive information sharing paperwork and fingerprinting are the start. Online web-based ethics workshops, protocol review, and recruitment of soldier participants follow. Wow. Our government at work!
Wish me luck. Better yet, wish me continuing good health, the joy of something new, and the energy and flexibility to enjoy the professional challenge. I'll let you know how it goes.
UPDATE: The grant contract, as it turns out, was written in such a way that I couldn't just work a few hours a week as planned. I did do the training, but ended up turning the work down. Oh well. It was an interesting interlude. LSB