From Cocoon to Caseload

"Here’s hoping my clients aren’t looking for some sort of saint-like fellow who has it all figured out."

It’s been a cool 3 months since my last post. How can I be expected to help folks form positive habits when I can’t even stick to my own!? Here’s hoping my clients aren’t looking for some sort of saint-like fellow who has it all figured out.

I just wrapped up my third week of seeing clients and have already learned a veritable ton from my small caseload. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a teenager with the wisdom and grace of an octogenarian (think Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender). I’ve sat with crying folks, afraid that they won’t ever break painful cycles of relationships and harmful habits. Folks who come to counseling scared and worried leave empowered and hopeful for their futures, feeling better just having verbalized it all.

It’s a magical process.

I’ve learned more over the past three weeks of counseling than I did from all of the collective hours I spent in classrooms and textbooks. The part that I’m most surprised by is that I feel that I take away just as much, (if not more) from the sessions than do the clients. My professors and mentors told me that therapy was a two-way street, but I didn’t fully believe them until I experienced it for myself.

It’s a relief to me too that I’m not expected to just pop out of my grad-school cocoon as some sort of fully-formed master therapist butterfly. The clinic in which I’m doing my ongoing training is wonderful for supporting my growth and for being accepting of my limitations. Likewise, I’m thankful that my supervisors and fellow counselors are pushing me to expand my boundaries and continue to challenge my own assertions.

The biggest thing that I believe I need to work on currently is my need for progress. I’m too eager to jump into session with a client and search for immediate answers or solutions to their problems, and I haven’t worked enough on being comfortable with diving into their past in order to search for some of those solutions. They aren’t always sitting on the surface, waiting for us to pick them up and activate them. In time, I aim to become better about holding my breath and going with my clients below the surface.

It’ll be no great surprise to learn that my ego must be pruned back further also. My reactions to certain things, particularly clients cancelling or quitting have been far to “me-centric.” It’s hard for me not to assume that the reason for the cancellation or no-show certainly is some reflection of something that I did or didn’t do, when really, it could be any number of reasons that the client didn’t come. Perhaps most simply, it could be that the client wasn’t as ready for the therapy or change process as they initially thought they were. I need to be willing to accept that and support that client in my thoughts and prayers as they await their season of change.

Above all else, it’s been a complete blast. I don’t know that I could love the process and art of therapy any more. Even after a challenging session, I find myself smiling with gratitude that I get to do this as a career. I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity and for the lessons my clients have taught me thus far.

I’m going to try to do a better job writing on here, but I should probably, if we’re being candid, delete the “weekly” from my bio section. I’ll probably have more to write about now that I’m in the throes of counseling, so wish me luck, and look out for more posts soon.