A Counselor Educator Reveals his Creative Side and Models Valid Career Decision Making

By Melanie Reinersman

Would you like to get to know this NCDA member? For him, Palm Beach Atlantic University is as much a part of him as the New York based production set of CBS's television show “Person of Interest”. He has fond memories of performing the lead role in his sixth grade play, “Oliver” as well as working with delinquent boys at a wilderness camp in Virginia. He can just as easily talk about the role playing he does with his graduate students and the role of religion in life. He admits that there is a “dark side” to the dramatic arts and acknowledges no job is perfect. Read on to discover his name and his story. It's a story that showcases effective career decision-making.


Finding Balance in Life

How does he balance all the yin and yang in his life? It might help to compare him to his father, another Renaissance man. His father was an engineer who was also a choir director. Not surprisingly, the son followed dad by working as a professional (about 50 hours a week right now) while enjoying a creative hobby as an actor. In January 2012, he flew to New York City on a Friday after teaching and spent two days working as an extra (a Wall Street type character) on the set of “Person of Interest”. Why? Because he tells his students to “follow your dreams!” He could not just work a job – he has to work at having a creative outlet as well. He's authentic, or as he says, “I can't teach it boring!”


Can-Do Attitude

He learned his strengths and weaknesses through “strategy and intentionality, by knowing self and also discovering self in different experiences.” As an elementary student, he “contributed to lively discussions in the classroom,” and now he is praised for that in reviews/evaluations from current students. He achieved Eagle Scout and recognized the “high adventure challenge in me.” He knew he was good at art, but not sure he wanted it as a career. “Dad’s value of safety and security (through growing up in the Great Depression) influenced me to a certain extent.” School counseling seemed to fit more with his temperament, as well as giving him the summers off to travel, perform, or work in a service ministry. He attained a Masters in School Counseling and a Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education and lives by telling himself, “If I set my mind to it, I can do it!”


Connecting with Others

When he made people laugh as a child, he knew he was a people-person. Through acting, he learned he enjoys being with creative people. Yet he has also connected with people in a different way. As a School Counselor, he used his artistic talents to a draw portrait of a student sitting across the desk from him during an emotional meeting. The act of drawing seemed to soften the mood in the room and the result was not just a portrait for the student to hold, but a connection between counselor and student that proved valuable. Today, the 21st century methods of connecting (such as using Facebook to find and apply for television auditions) work for this professor. Even the acting newsletter he reads results in connections; he once responded to the editor via email and learned the editor knows the best friend of Jim Caviezel's (the star of “Person of Interest”). Who knows where this type of networking will led to in the future?


Values are Clear

Every career counseling client needs to spend time identifying values that affect the career decision. This Counselor Educator learned and demonstrated his values by volunteering in various summer ministry positions and working with youth in outdoor wilderness camps for boys. His quick decision to fly to New York would not have occurred for just any casting call. First, the call was for a two-day shooting commitment which matched his value of practicality. Second, he wanted to “make a life memory,” which is a very personal value. Third, he respected Mr. Caviezel as an actor and Christian and welcomed the opportunity to be on the same set. He reacted as a Christian man to a particular incident that occurred during the second day of shooting “Person of Interest” that involved Mr. Caviezel praying out loud on set. While others may not have appreciated what occurred, this man was able to quietly support Mr. Caviezel. “I don't know what's going to happen next,” he states, “but I can walk in the footsteps of faith.” Yes, living a creative life is important to him, but he does not allow the “dark side” of the entertainment industry to compromise his values.


Listen to Your Client's Story

Like every client you have worked with, this NCDA member has a story. It's worth listening to. It's a story about living dreams, acting on values, making memories, networking via social media, identifying your interests, taking action on personal desires.... It's a story of NCDA member and NCDA Membership Committee Chairperson, Tom Dodson. He is happy to share his story with Career Convergence readers as proof that a life of effective career decision making is a great life!

Tom Dodson appearing on CBS Person of Interest

 Tom Dodson is the white haired man, seated in the photo from CBS' "Person of Interest". At the one minute mark of this clip (click on the photo), Tom appears for several seconds. He played an investment banker working at a desk and a colleague approaches to show him a document.


This article is first in a series of getting to know NCDA members. If you or someone you know has a story to share, contact one of the editors of Career Convergence.




Melanie Reinersman, MA, is editor of Career Convergence and website editor for NCDA. She can be reached at webeditor@ncda.org or on Twitter @NCDAwebeditor.

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Annie Jones   on Thursday 06/04/2015 at 09:07 AM

Great story and comments, sometimes our abilities and talents cannot be contained in just one profession. The fact that this gentleman can masterfully balance two fulfilling careers is hopeful evidence that when counseling for careers, never to just focus on one part of the clients abilities and needs, but be able to provide valuable alternatives to allow them to choose the best path or paths for their career journey.

linda lubinsky   on Tuesday 08/07/2018 at 05:40 PM


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.