i don’t think that it’s a secret, but i’ll tell you anyway. i’m going into the helping profession. you know, counseling, psychology, whatever you want to call it.
now, i firmly believe that this is where i’m supposed to be and what i’m supposed to be doing. i really really do. i just sometimes have a hard time with certain aspects of it. i want to help people. i want to help families. i want to help marriages. i don’t just want them to survive, i want them to THRIVE. i’m so passionate about that.
it just seems like everything i’m learning is pointing toward aloofness and disconnectedness with a client. i know that i’m just starting out and i don’t really know anything and haven’t done much for ‘professional counseling’ but i don’t like what i’m learning. it just seems like all the counseling that i went through and hated. cold, removed, aimed at… i don’t even know what.
now, i know i’m not supposed to be their best friend, i get that. i know that i have to draw the line between professional and unprofessional. i know that i have to establish credibility as well as earn the trust of the client if i’m ever going to be able to help them.
it’s just… it’s just that something doesn’t sit well with me in all of this. there’s something that i’m having a really difficult time swallowing. i see that when i’m “counseling” with my classmates. of course people aren’t going to open up with all their life’s problems in a three week class, i know that. so i try to practice summarizing and paraphrasing, asking open ended questions and mirroring my patient’s movements. i am trying to learn about proper self-disclosure and when and where that’s appropriate and how much to tell and why and where and what.
and yet, i talk to my friends and my husband and they tell me what’s going on in their lives and it’s as though none of these skills are appropriate. i know that it has to do with that line of professional and unprofessional, connected and disconnected. they talk to me and i try to draw upon the skills i’m learning to get out what they’re trying to say and it’s like ‘this stuff isn’t me!!!’
how do you turn feelings and emotions and things that are so deeply in a person into adequate words? how do you become a person that is worthy of taking that journey with them? is it ok to be a counselor/professional who will curl up on the couch with a patient with a cup of hot chocolate and listen? or do i have to sit across an open space in uncomfortable chairs? do i have to ask seemingly cliche questions? how do i be empathetic while being professional? is it ok to cry with a client?
i feel like so much of who i am longs to connect so much more deeply with those who i help than seems to be allowed by “the rules”. i know how to ask questions to get more information. i know how to draw out the facts that i want. i know to be quiet and let someone think and say what they want in their own time. but somehow, over the last week and half of this course, it seems like i’m doing everything wrong. it seems like i’m caring too much about the person behind the story.
maybe it’s because of the secular focus of the book. of the class. of the profession. maybe i don’t understand people as well as i think i do. maybe i only interact with a few kinds of people and maybe it’s that they’re my closest friends. maybe it’s because i’m so out of the element in which i want to work. talking with a grad student about a fear of bugs isn’t exactly what i had in mind for my work.
maybe i’m just tired and thinking too much.
maybe i’m afraid of spending money on a new degree that has the chance of turning out just as poorly as the last one did. maybe i’m afraid of spending time learning skills that may not benefit anyone.
maybe i’m afraid that i’m not good enough to help people…