Monday, November 2, 2009

In the image of the cross, our own sense of tragedy is affirmed...

One of my classmates works with energy healing. She believes that if the energy line along our spine is clear of blockages we will be happier and healthier people. In order to help people achieve this she tunes her own body to their energy and clears any blockages in their energy line. She told me that during a particularly stressful day of our seminar last week she spent some time clearing everyone's energy and that after she was done she noticed the stress level go down in the room, everyone became more at ease. When she told me this I wondered to myself why I hadn't thought to pray for my classmates in that situation. She believes strongly in this use of energy, so she used it to help the people around her. If I believe strongly in God, why didn't I use my beliefs in that way?
There is some sort of disconnect between my work as a counsellor and my faith. Which is strange because when I face difficult and tragic circumstances in my own life or alongside my friends, I know that only God can provide the necessary peace and healing. But when I face these things alongside my clients, I'm left wondering which skill or intervention to use. Perhaps because prayer and turning to God isn't a sanctioned answer by the academic world or secular workplace, and it is definitely inappropriate to impose my beliefs onto my clients. But should God not still be involved in the process? If only by my own silent plea for His presence and help?
How do I bring myself back to the place where my first instinct is to turn to God... in EVERY area of my life?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Truth at all costs ... [Martin Luther King Jr.]

As counselling students we are trained to keep our own values and beliefs out of the counselling relationship... the session is about the client, not about us. This made sense to me, my White, Western, Christian, Upper-Middle Class point of view is by no means the only valid way of seeing the world. However, putting it into practice is a little more difficult. How do I decipher between what is my bias and what is a universal value? Sometimes the lines get a little blurry. After all, I believe what I believe because I think it is the truth.

For example, I have had a couple of client's indicate to me that they are being less than honest with their significant other. Nothing so big as an affair, smaller things like letting her boyfriend believe that she cares for him more than she actually does, or letting his girlfriend believe that he is ok with living together when actually he is not. Maybe you don't know this about me, but truth and honesty are very important to me. I think the lie hurts much more than any action, so you can imagine my negative internal reaction to these situations... but is my inclination towards truth my own bias?

A quote from one of my class readings says that "the therapist should make clear that the truth is a goal constantly to be striven for". Can we go so far as to say that honesty and integrity are moral absolutes? I want to say yes... but I'm not sure that everyone would agree. I'm left longing for the wisdom necessary to know what are absolutes and what are my own biases. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Courage my love...

Oops! Somehow I let three weeks pass without another update... I guess there is a lot to catch up on!

I'm currently in the middle of the third week of my practicum. Week one was mostly characterized by anxiety. When I was handed my first client files the first thought to go through my head was "I can't do this, this was a mistake". Yup, I wasn't kidding, I was so anxious I was calling into question the last eight years of life decisions. Luckily my next thought was "What else are you going to do? This is the only job you've ever seen yourself in?" so I decided to gather some courage and press onwards.

As I posted in my last entry, I was concerned about my age, a concern that was amplified when the first session I sat in on focused heavily on problems the client was having with his step-daughter, who was about the same age as me.  By week two my anxiety had subsided. There were two reasons for this... one was that I realized that I would go crazy with anticipation if I stayed as anxious as I had been for another week, so I forced myself to stop thinking about it. The other was that Brandon's message on Monday night at the Embassy reminded me of 1 TImothy 4:12 - Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young - which made me realize that 'anyone' included me! The way I saw myself was the way others were going to see me. If I had confidence in myself, regardless of my age and experience, then others would be confident in me.

So I role-played intakes and needs assessments with the intake counsellor and a classmate and made appointments with clients for the next week... which is this week! I've seen three clients already and everything went fairly smoothly - with the exception of a few bumps and loops in the road - meaning that I didn't panic and all my clients seemed willing to come back.  However, now that introductions and needs assessments are complete, I'm awake at 4 am, anxious and wondering...

What do I do next session? 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bearing witness to the process...

Nine days from now I will begin counselling as a practicum student. When people ask me if I'm excited about this, I tell them that the truth is that I'm terrified. How can I, a young women with only twenty-six years of life experience under her belt, possible have anything to offer in the way of help to those who come desperately seeking it. It makes me wish that I was starting in the high schools rather than the counselling center, at least with teenagers I have more life experience than them.

I'm trying to remind myself that many great speakers and performers continue to get anxious before going on stage, even when they've done it a million times, some would say that the anxiety is what gives them their edge and keeps them from getting complacent. Maybe it is the same thing with counselling, maybe no matter how much experience I have I will continue to get anxious before walking into a counselling session, maybe that is what will keep me from thinking I have the answers and ensure that I continue to honour the journey of the individual's life I am about to have the privilege of bearing witness to. 

Another thing that I am afraid of is my ability to carry the weight of the stories I hear. People don't usually show up at counselling because things in their life are going well, and I have a tendency to carry people's pain a little bit too close. While I am confident that I am sustained by a great God who bears my burdens (Psalm 68:19 - Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens), I too often neglect to take the time to lay them down for Him to carry. If you are reading this and are someone who prays, I would appreciate a prayer for me, that I would allow God to carry the burdens that threaten to weigh me down.

This entering into other's life stories, exposure to different experiences and understandings of the world,  I'm sure is going to bring into question many ideas and beliefs I have come to hold, which is kind of why I am here. Hopefully getting into this blog again will give me a place to process these things, and hopefully others will join in on the conversation :)

I'll leave you with a quote I came across in one of my readings from my fall classes... which is really more a reminder for myself than anything else:
"Maturing as a person both inside and outside the consultation room, ultimately you will find that what you have to offer is not a technique, not a theory, but who you are." - Kramer

Friday, April 3, 2009

my soul cries...

I am easily broken
when your actions call into question
that I belong
that I am valued
that I am loved
and my heart aches
and I feel all alone

Friday, February 13, 2009

It takes courage to grow up to be who you really are...

The last time I checked in on this list was january 3 2007... two years have passed and I don't think I've made much progress... some will be especially difficult to accomplish because they aren't so much under my control, like falling in love and getting married.... but I've got to get moving if I'm going to do all this in the next four years and four months!

30 things to do before I'm 30...  (newly completed things are in green)
1. Graduate with my BA

2. See Lifehouse in concert
3. Play in the pit band of a musical
4. Live outside of Ontario for at least 1 year
5. Find the perfect dress
6. Go to Europe
7. Go to South Africa

8. Open a youth drop-in center
9. Fall in love
10. Get married
11. Wear contacts

12. Own a piano (this used to say grand piano but I'm so happy to have a piano at all I decided to change it!)
13. See Les Miserables

14. See a musical on Broadway
15. Get blue highlights

16. Paint a picture on a canvas
17. Go on a cruise
18. Go on a round the world trip
19. Wax my eyebrows

20. See Rent for a second time
21. Take a photography course
22. Get a Masters degree (this will be done when I'm 26.. woot!)
23. Watch an entire season of a TV show in one day
24. Buy a car (planning this for the summer)
25. Sleep under the stars
26. Make a scrapbook for myself
27. Tithe consistantly
28. Work at a job that fulfills me
29. Get a piercing