Veteran and EKU Alumnus Chose Counseling as Career to Give Back to Community
Dakota Gallimore knew he wanted his career after the Marine Corps to focus on mental health, but he wasn’t sure what route was best. A native Kentuckian, he chose EKU because of the university’s reputation with veterans. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology (2017) and while taking undergraduate classes at EKU he discovered his career path as a counselor. He earned his Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health from EKU’s College of Education in 2019.
“There are many different ways to work in the mental health field,” said Gallimore, “including being a social worker or psychologist. But with the guidance of an EKU professor, I learned that providing therapy to clients through counseling was the path for me. While in the military, I sought counseling. Sadly, mental health issues are often stigmatized in the military and I’ve had military friends that committed suicide. So, my career choice was a way to give back.”
Gallimore works as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate(LPCA) with the Kentucky Counseling Center, a private practice providing services across Kentucky. He focuses on counseling clients with issues related to trauma, depression, and anxiety. Dakota creates his own schedule and sees from 30-45 clients ranging from ages six to seventy in a typical week.
“I’m a workaholic because I love my job. I know that I am making a difference. Some days or weeks counselors may not see progress. But then I might witness a defining moment for the client that really makes a difference. I love building those relationships with my clients and making an impact even though the improvements may come after they leave my care.”
Gallimore’s practice focuses on issues confronted by teenagers and young adults. Before COVID-19, he typically saw patients face-to-face and provided telehealth appointments in special circumstances. Since the outbreak of the virus, all his appointments have been through telehealth.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I’ve seen a real increase in anxiety,” Gallimore said. “People reaching out to me because they are afraid. They don’t know what is going to happen next. Also, there is a sense of loss. Many people have lost jobs and their sense of purpose and are reassessing themselves. Trauma is what we often think of as what happens in war or a car crash, but the loss of status that comes with losing a job is trauma too.”
“Helping people redefine themselves outside their jobs is something I can do. Of course, this can be very positive but is also is challenging. I help guide clients through this process of self-development.”
Gallimore’s feels the faculty at EKU helped him target the best program for his goals and interests. He recommends EKU’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling because graduates can enter the profession sooner than other choices requiring a doctorate. He also notes that EKU’s program can be completed while working in other fields, making it very accommodating for those seeking to change careers.
“EKU’s program was very inviting and the faculty provided a lot of resources. Most of EKU’s graduates get a job immediately. I had three different job offers from three different practices when I completed my program. The great thing about EKU is that it truly prepared me for what I’m doing now. My peers and I felt ready to be counselors. The internship process and the support offered in the program was invaluable. The faculty are still there for me to answer questions and it’s an amazing community to be a part of.”
To learn more about EKU's College of Education counseling programs, visit https://coecounseling.eku.edu/programs
Published on May 27, 2020