My bias is that it should be about you, not me! However, my marketing guru disagrees. She believes potential clients want to know my background, counseling philosophy and what brings me to do the work I do. So here goes.
Counseling has always been my first love. Indeed, even during college I was hired as a counselor’ for troubled students at a grade school. After obtaining a BA Degree in Business Finance, of all things, I pursued grad school in counseling. I graduated from a two-year accredited program and obtained my MSW (Masters Degree in Social Work). Shortly after, I later earned my ACSW, which stands for Accredited Social Worker. It represents two years of formally supervised clinical work after I earned my Master’s Degree. I then had to be rated by my clinical supervisor and pass a National Exam. In a nutshell, it means I’m experienced and well trained.
I later earned my formal certification in clinical hypnosis. It entailed ongoing supervision. I also successfully completed a two-year graduate level program in Adlerian Psychology.
In addition to my formal education, I have spent a small fortune on training to become adept at a host of innovative, effective change methodologies. This includes training with the actual developers of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and advanced study in Systems Therapy.
Beware – someone could have all these degrees and training, and even more, and still be a terrible clinician. It’s not all about the degrees and training – it’s about the person. Yes, you obviously want someone well trained, experienced and versatile. However, you also want a counselor who is continually learning instead of being locked into outdated and ineffective methodologies. As importantly, you also want a counselor who loves the work and is not burned out or feels trapped in the profession. Above all, trust your intuition when selecting a helping professional.
My philosophy, my strong, guiding beliefs about serving as a counselor follow:
* Counseling should be a tool to quickly and gracefully move forward with your life. It should not become a way of life! Seeing a counselor for ages serves the system, not you. Not only is long term work rarely necessary, if the counselor isn’t adept, this long term work can actually be detrimental to the client. Neurology now supports this. Talking about a problem for months and months, let alone years, actually reinforces the issue in your neurological pathways. Dr. Candice Pert, a beautiful soul and former director on the National Institute of Mental Health, coined the phrase, “What fires together, wires together.” You want healthy new pathways reinforced rather than the old neurological pathways which no longer serve you.
* People can indeed move beyond any emotional limit, no matter how long it has been an issue. I know, this flies in the face of traditional long term therapy. So be it. Individuals quickly evolving beyond their limits has been my experience. even with severe physical and sexual trauma as well as PTSD. Effective tools are available, no matter how long the client may have wrestled with an issue.
* Responsibility rests with the counselor to serve as an effective catalyst for the client to quickly and gracefully evolve, to move beyond their issue. This is big. During my training in Neuro-Linguisic Programming, I was taught to applaud a challenging client. They were a call for me to learn more and move beyond my limits as a counselor. Blaming the client for not changing is a cop out on the counselor’s part. It’s a comment on their skill level, not you.
* Clients should not become dependent on a counselor. I believe an effective counselor simply serves as a catalyst to access clients’ inherent strengths, no matter how unaware of these strengths the client may be. This is a liberating and empowering process for the client. It frees the client from long-term work with me. Sadly, long term work reinforces the erroneous belief that the client is somehow broken. Not so. They may be in pain and at their wits end, but they aren’t broken or defective. Not by a long shot. I expand upon this below.
* I strongly believe, I know, clients are not broken or defective. Far from it – they are resourceful survivors! What they may label as their most dysfunctional behavior was simply an attempt to help them cope or in some way protect them. Yes, this behavior may have outlived its usefulness. Perhaps there were more harmonious behaviors available to them. No matter. The client, however they may feel, is not broken or defective. Truth be told, they possess their own inherent, inviolable, and unique beauty.
Everyone gets stuck at times. This is actually a good sign! It means you are engaged with life, you’re “in the arena.” As such, you’ll naturally get bumped from time to time. Rest assured, with the right tools, you can quickly, gracefully evolve past being stuck.