As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I recently completed my time as a practicum student at Murray State University. This represented my first, real, hands-on experience as a counselor since I came back to school to obtain my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. It was daunting and downright scary at times, and I constantly felt as if I wasn’t doing a very good job. At the same time, though, there were some extremely rewarding moments where I was privileged enough to witness real change taking place in people’s lives.

I wish I could say the high points came as a result of some great wisdom I shared with a client or because I so masterfully worked within the concepts of the counseling theory I have adopted as my own. In reality, though, the greatest and most encouraging moments didn’t have that much to do with me at all. I may have been sitting in the counselor’s chair, but the real work was taking place in the seat across from me.

18792189-you-can-do-it-rubber-stamp-over-a-white-background-stock-photoThe ability to change course and “right the ship,” so to speak, is an astounding thing to witness in another human being. It is in those moments when I am fortunate enough to see that at work that I realize my role as a counselor is not to “fix” someone else. I am merely a facilitator. The heavy lifting is being done by the client, someone who many times may not even realize they are progressing toward genuine change. When I realize I have done very little to progress them in their journey, I do not feel discouraged. In fact, I feel a great sense of pride and happiness, as if I am watching a small child figuring out how to walk for the first time.

As a client of counseling myself, I know I have more often than not been oblivious of the changes taking place inside of me. I have looked to the counselor as some type of guru, as if they somehow possessed a knowledge I had not yet run across in my life. I didn’t believe I had the power to alter my course. I was convinced someone had to do it for me.

I certainly do not want to downplay the significance of the counselor in the therapeutic process. I mean, if clients were fully capable of working through all of their issues on their own, why would anyone go to a counselor at all? What I am saying, though, is this: You can do it. You can make changes in your life. You can be free of the issues that have been holding you back. You can be happy again. And the amazing thing is, the power to make all that happen lies not in the hands of the counselor, but in the heart that beats within you.

If this all sounds a little too Tony Robbins-ish, I apologize. I just get excited when I think about the potential that lies in all of us to climb up out of the pits we find ourselves in. It doesn’t happen without work, though, and it doesn’t happen without a real commitment to change. To witness people dedicating themselves to the process was inspiring, and it makes me look forward to my upcoming internship even more. With any luck, I won’t be doing much work there either.
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