For anyone who is new to the counseling experience, it can feel intimidating. After all, it involves disclosing personal information that can leave one feeling quite vulnerable. I frequently meet people who have either never been to counseling and hold preconceived ideas regarding the process or who have kept themselves away due to negative counseling experiences.
Reservations are ok
I want to start by saying that it is okay to feel reservations about counseling- whether from a past negative situation or just venturing into the unknown. Very few people are comfortable with complete vulnerability. And counseling can cause differing vulnerability for individuals from varying walks of life. This is quite normal and understandable.
To those of you who have had negative experiences while seeking counseling may I as a therapist say that I am so deeply sorry for your experiences. I realize how courageous it was for you to reach for expertise, in the first place. To instead be met with disappointment and confusion is not okay. As therapists we are trained to uphold ethical standards and guidelines that sadly, are not always followed as thoroughly or honorably as expected. As a therapist, I have seen therapists in my own life and had some not so great experiences. Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with such things and empathize with those who have shared similar situations.
Let’s face it, it is not easy to sit facing someone whom you don’t know intimately and share your life. It can be challenging not to feel judged or fear being misguided. Moreover, there can be valid uncertainty with the person in whom one is sharing. A person might wonder if the therapist can provide competent psychotherapy even with a degree hanging on a wall. Other times, it might be difficult to relate to relate to different personalities. It may take considerable time to build that trust and rapport and some people may find themselves leaving the process too early.
Not just a job
One of the reasons I enjoy working where I do is that my colleagues really do care about the clients and work that they do. And more importantly, see the work that they do as God’s ministry for others. In other words, it is not just a ‘job’. These are the types of therapists who want to be where they are and do what they do.
Along with upholding ethical guidelines, there is a deeply held value and honor knowing that the people we are meeting are of great worth to God. Now that puts things into perspective! Even more value held is understanding that we too are human-beings, vulnerable to pain, which provides us with empathy and compassion for those we are privileged to meet.
Together on a journey
As therapists we may not share the same social constructs, religious affiliations, or cultural backgrounds as our clients, but we honor and hold space for them nonetheless. What we do share is common humanity. And it is important to remember this as a therapist and client. We are all on a sacred journey through life that is often met with peaks and valleys.
I hope you come back for part 2, if you would like to read another of Kim’s blogs please click on the link below: