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