First, a small report on what my last couple weeks have been. Yesterday, I gave a tour of the Gonzaga campus for teenage refugees. The week before that, I volunteered to work with doctors who work with chronic and terminally ill children. Slightly before that, I took my comps (comprehensive finals for those not in the know), and scored somewhere in “out of the park” territory. Can we take a moment to acknowledge how crazy fulfilling my life is right now?
Now then, if we’re all done cheering (or maybe that was just me, and probably also Clark and Dan), I want to say a little bit about what I’ve found out about what success means as a counselor. Success is something you have to get very zen about if you want to make it as a counselor. If you judge yourself by how many complete turnarounds your clients make, you’re not going to be a very happy camper. If even you hit some kind of hot streak, and all your clients pull full 180’s, you have to remember that they were the ones that did the heavy lifting in the first place. Success in the healthy counselor is not achievement, but rather a state of mind.
Here’s therapy in its skinniest nutshell. A client comes in and (hopefully/eventually) says “look at all this crap!” The counselor looks at it and says “Wow, that is a lot of crap! What are you going to do about it?” Eventually, the two sort through the crap, and the client goes “I can deal with my crap now, thanks!” For those counselors out there with a god complex, remember this little dose of reality; our job is to teach crap filing systems.
Some might think this sounds jaded. I think it’s a beautiful thing. My job as a counselor is to hear the client’s stories, challenge the client’s sadness, and to ultimately convince the client that the power to help themselves has been within them the entire time. Getting to see that journey and that growth is, I think, one of the coolest things a human being can be a part of.