Expectations for ourselves and our clients

As a new counselor we have all sorts of expectations. We have expectations for ourselves, how we “should” respond, what techniques and theories we “should” use, how quickly we “should get it” or conceptualize the problem, that we “should” be able to fix it, or help. We also get caught up in the expectations we have for our clients, how they “should” behave and what they “should” get out of each counseling session. I end up making quite a mess of things when I “should” all over the place. This was an ongoing battle for me and every other student in my Internship class.  It was my last semester, the one that brings everything you have learned about counseling into consolidation. The class was much different than I thought it was going to be. I was convinced I would get all kinds of useful information and techniques about how to do counseling right, but the lessons I learned in my final class were less about techniques and more about bringing an awareness to myself.  Sure we talked about ethics, termination, safety, but instead of focusing on figuring out the client, we were instructed to pay attention to what was going on within us. How were we feeling during a session? How were we sitting and breathing, and how did that affect our work with the client? How was our perception of expectations and attachment to our expectations for our clients and ourselves getting in the way of being in the present? Continue reading

Letters to a Young Therapist

Letters to a Young Therapist, by Mary Pipher, is a novel that feels like a conversation with a supervisor who cares deeply for the work of helping people and is committed to guiding a novice through the tricky parts of counseling.  I like the style of letters through each chapter.  The overall themes categorized by each letter resonate with some of the work I have already done and gives me some tips and ideas for future work I may encounter.  Continue reading