Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Growing up

(Another pic for Thobeka) Those are turtles, not rocks. Well, there are some rocks too, but the turtles are cooler. This is at a funny beach that must be on a popular tourist website because it's always crowded, to the point of slowing traffic, even though there are turtles at tons of other beaches too...

Well, I'm done with my internship. I ended counseling with all of my clients, and handed off several of them to new counselors. This was actually very difficult for me in a few cases, especially with one client who I had done a lot of meaningful work with. At our last session, she gave me a letter that I will keep forever. In it, she told me that I could count her as a success story, and thanked me for helping her change her life. I just about cried. As hard and frustrating as counseling can be sometimes, there are moments like that that make it all worth it.

Looking back, this internship has been an amazing experience. I got the chance to work with so many different types of people, from so many different countries. I did individual counseling, couples counseling, started a therapy group, taught a class, and saw an idea come to life in the form of a workshop on women's career issues. I had amazing guidance from seasoned therapists who pushed me to trust myself and try new things.

Even though I spent two years studying books, the last nine months have taught me the most. I had a real breakthrough as a therapist one night when I was teaching a violin lesson, funny enough. I was teaching a student who has impeccable technique, which makes for really fun lessons where all we work on is musicality and expression. I was encouraging her to experiment with a Vivaldi concerto, and let her emotions come through in the piece, however it felt right. After she played a passage, I would tell her what her interpretation communicated to me. I realized then that I was doing in this lesson what I needed to do as an effective counselor - not telling someone what to do, but provide the environment to experiment and be honest with oneself, and be a nonjudgmental sounding board.

Another realization I had as I saw my clients progress and grow was how little I had to do with the process. They did all the work. I merely provided a safe place and a gentle feedback to allow my clients to use the strengths they already had, and learn to trust themselves.

I can't make my violin students practice, and I can't make my clients change. But if they trust me and feel safe to make mistakes, they'll want to.

I hope I can keep this all in mind as I start my new job in Maui, working with clients with eating disorders, a notoriously hard population. We're very excited to move though, and I'm excited for my first big girl job! More on that later...


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home