I am close to graduation and completing my internship, I have the privilege to work with some amazing clients that are in recovery. So far, it has been an eye-opening learning experience. After class the other night, I started to reflect on a case conceptualization that we discussed in class. I began to think, how do you know that you got it right? In some cases there are many different paths a counselor can take with a client and there may be several different relevant issues the client needs help with. So, again how do you know for sure that you got it right?
My professor has been in the field for 35 years, so for him, it is second nature. He assures us that we will get to that point, and for now patience is key. He shares a metaphor a friend gave to describe the role of a counselor, her image of counseling is that of a person who excels in being perfectly still while constantly moving. It is true, this metaphor perfectly describes the art of being very present and very much in the here and now, while running through in the moment conceptualization to come up with a way to ask the right questions to lead the client to exactly where they need to be. No pressure, huh? For some it may seem like a crazy job to take on, but for those of us in the field with a passion to help people figure themselves out and to help them begin the path to recovery, to peace, to joy; it is a gift.
So, how does my question relate to all this? How do you know you got it right? Well I am thinking we don’t necessarily “know” that we have it right, but if we trust our gut, if we pay attention to the details, if we keep ourselves very much steeped in the present and work to help the client; while staying out of own heads that inevitably tell us we are incompetent or that we have no idea what we are doing….then my friends we will be in a much better place. We wont necessarily have a guarantee that everything we are doing is perfect, but we will be honest. Honest to our clients and less critical of ourselves. When clients see that we genuinely care and want to help them, if we create a safe environment for them, we don’t have to guess, they will tell us if we have it wrong.