Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Started

The idea for this blog came from a series of emails to my past professor and supervisor. See I am a counselor, or so I have been told. After graduate school I began working full time in Bellingham Washington for the Lummi Indian Tribe. New to the field of counseling, and well to life as a "real" adult in general, I was (still am) filled with questions, doubts, curiosities, and desperately seeking insight and encouragement. Journaling seemed like an option, but never really has worked for me. I need a more tangible sounding board than a notebook. So I emailed "updates" to two of my favorite supervisors from my graduate studies. I am still working on a theme for this blog, it will come. But for now I thought I would share a few of these emails, which I suppose you could call my "original blog."

Just Being- 11/1/07
I have to say it is nice to be a "real adult," I am definitely enjoying my steady income and as of today I have benefits! I just completed my 90 day probation period, and soon I hope to get a new car.
I am realizing the therapeutic value of being present. Over the past few weeks I have found myself becoming more comfortable with therapeutic silence. There have been moments when clients are crying, either out of frustration, fear, anger or sadness, where I have found myself at a loss for what words would comfort or console, so I went back to the basics. I reflected what feelings I saw, and then I waited, sometimes patiently and sometimes not. Often there would be 5 minute periods of nothing but silence, but in that silence both my client and I are engaged and present. Sometimes the most therapeutic lesson these kids can find is that somebody is there for them.
In my own life I feel like I am in a state of just being. One strange thing, I am having trouble realizing that it is fall. Usually in the fall I start something new, and very different from what I had been doing in the summer. But i started this job in the summer and I have just kept going... Most everything I have done in my life up until now has had a definite end in sight, Now that the 90 day probation period is over, there is no count down to anything, just life...its kind of refreshing actually.
Accepting Responsibility 12/12/07
Things here are Lummi are good, I found out yesterday that I get a Christmas Bonus, I suppose the PC term would be Holiday bonus, but on the rez things aren't always PC.  I am adding this to the list of things that make me feel like a real grown-up. Speaking of being grown-up I finally bought a new car. My old one was needing serious life support and as I work 15 miles from home, I was in need of transportation. I love my cute little Mazda3, it is silver, and a hatchback, and came with ski racks (not that i ski, but I'm still young, i can learn!)
Sometimes my clients are a window into my own neurosis. I am attempting to help them understand the idea of accepting responsibility of ones actions, part of this being to accept the consequences of those actions whether they be good or bad. My problem with accepting responsibility is that I think I take more than my fair share. If my client is doing well, it is do to their good work, if they aren't then I am a bad counselor. How is that for a maladaptive belief? It is completely illogical! Now if only my brain could convince my heart. Maybe my expectations for my clients are too high, maybe my expectations for myself are too high. I can only do so much, and sometimes this work feels like hitting your head against a wall. I need some help coping with this discouragement or else I am on my way to burnout quick.

Thoughts on Hope- 7/17/08
Recently I had a co-worker leave our agency to move onto work towards his Doctorate in Clinical/Research Psychology in Utah. I accept and understand that I am a very right brained therapist, and he accepts and understands that he is very left brained. We argued constantly, the productive kind of arguing where everyone is right they just choose to disagree. I appreciated the friendship, and the challenge of having him around, did i mention we shared an office. One thing that we could never agree on was the importance of Hope in counseling. I see it as foundational to personal development, my co-worker said that he preferred to be "realistic." i could never convince him that hope is not unrealistic. Sometimes I felt like it was myself I was trying to convince. How do I continue to have hope that my client's lives will get better, despite the overwhelming evidence that they may not. Even now I say "may not" instead of won't because I never want to lack hope so much that i definitively state they will have a miserable future. I know I'm right to have hope, but how do I convince others and myself that i am not naive to do so?
I need a Pep Talk- 6/9/09  (Written while also planning a wedding)
Things at work are crazy. Budget cuts, Medicaid crisis, and summer heat making the kids act out. Last Wednesday was a particularly rough day at work. I left wondering "how do you continue to love somebody, who refuses to receive it, who maybe is incapable of it because they don't love themselves, or has been too damaged to receive it?" It is really helping me to identify a bit with the heart of God. And with all the political chaos, I come to work everyday, uncertain about whether or not I will have a job the next week.
I feel like all my coping skills are occupied with the multiple stressors in my life. its a bit overwhelming at times, but i am hopeful.

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