I'm Reacting to Myself

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​In my internship we had to complete two papers where we reacted to a particular therapy session we offered to our clients. This is the second one I turned in this term. This photo is my professor’s comments on my paper.

I am trying to think through a session I have had where I was caused a disturbance or caused me to feel or think in a particular way, which stands out to me as something I need to process or think through. And in all honesty, I am having difficulty. So rather than try to find something that may not be there, I would like to react to this program, and my involvement in it.

I can’t believe it! I am here! I am finally at the end of this program. When I started it years ago, I am not even really sure why I chose this program. When I lived in Gainesville and worked for DCF as a caseworker, I applied to and got into FSU’s MSW program (they offer it in Gainesville every three years or so). So for me, beginning the road to be a counselor was not what I envisioned myself doing. I always viewed myself as more of a social worker than a counselor. But here I am, or there I was… in the program now.

I have often described me begin in this program as ‘by default’. I said this because I am not sure how I ended up here. I don’t know exactly why. Over the last 6 years, I have struggled with some of the main concepts or tenets of what makes a person a counselor. Viewing myself as a social worker, I have found it hard to learn to not fix people. When someone comes to counseling, it is not my role to tell them what is wrong and how to fix it. This is very hard for me. I am a practical kind of guy who wants things to be fixed and moved on from. I have come to learn and appreciate the value of assisting others on their own journey of discovery. What makes the answer so poignant to us, is when we come to it on our own. I have grown much in this respect I believe or the course of this program. I have better listening skills. I am more apt to listen first, and second before I offer advice to someone. I am willing to journey alongside people as they come to the conclusions of what they need to do and where they need to go in life. This is very refreshing! It relieves the pressure of me having to fix everyone… which obviously is impossible to do.

I have also struggled with trying to find my theoretical approach to counseling. Again, I have always viewed myself as a practical kind of guy who wanted to fix things and then move on. Because of this, I tried to fit myself into the mold of begin solution-focused. This fits sometimes, but is not the overarching fit for me. It may be my upbringing or it may be the way I am wired, but I have an intense desire to understand why people think and act they way they do. I want to know the underlying reasons for their behaviors. What is happening in their unconscious mind leading them to think and act the way they do? When I was in middle school and high school, my father completed an MSW program. I remember the family joke around the dinner table was we were going to ‘psychoanalyze people’ to understand why they were doing what they were doing. This became the running joke for us. But, there is much truth to it for me because learning this psychological motivation for why people do what they do is fascinating to me. I have seen how in my own life, this is the only real way to learn how to overcome the various struggles we have in our life. In my own journey of counseling, I tried to learn ways to manage attitudes, behaviors and thoughts; but it wasn’t until I uncovered the root cause that I was able to overcome it. I certainly don’t know all there is to know on this subject, but this program has assisted me in defining who I am as a counselor and what I want to know about my clients so I am able to help them.

While I can’t answer with certainty why I ended up in this program, I can say with certainty this program is the right one for me. I entered this program at a critical time in my life and it has been one of very few constants in my life over the last six and a half years. I have learned a great deal about myself. I have learned a great deal about how to manage myself. I have learned a great deal about how to assist other people who are facing similar circumstances in their lives. After much thought and consideration, I believe I am in this program because it fits well with who I am and how I desire to help people. I am glad I am on the verge of graduation. These last six years have been some of the most difficult years of my life and it has been the years where I have grown the most. This program has allowed me to realize the person I can be. I am thankful for being in the program and being able to complete this milestone.

I’m Reacting to Myself

20140307-103150.jpg

​In my internship we had to complete two papers where we reacted to a particular therapy session we offered to our clients. This is the second one I turned in this term. This photo is my professor’s comments on my paper.

I am trying to think through a session I have had where I was caused a disturbance or caused me to feel or think in a particular way, which stands out to me as something I need to process or think through. And in all honesty, I am having difficulty. So rather than try to find something that may not be there, I would like to react to this program, and my involvement in it.

I can’t believe it! I am here! I am finally at the end of this program. When I started it years ago, I am not even really sure why I chose this program. When I lived in Gainesville and worked for DCF as a caseworker, I applied to and got into FSU’s MSW program (they offer it in Gainesville every three years or so). So for me, beginning the road to be a counselor was not what I envisioned myself doing. I always viewed myself as more of a social worker than a counselor. But here I am, or there I was… in the program now.

I have often described me begin in this program as ‘by default’. I said this because I am not sure how I ended up here. I don’t know exactly why. Over the last 6 years, I have struggled with some of the main concepts or tenets of what makes a person a counselor. Viewing myself as a social worker, I have found it hard to learn to not fix people. When someone comes to counseling, it is not my role to tell them what is wrong and how to fix it. This is very hard for me. I am a practical kind of guy who wants things to be fixed and moved on from. I have come to learn and appreciate the value of assisting others on their own journey of discovery. What makes the answer so poignant to us, is when we come to it on our own. I have grown much in this respect I believe or the course of this program. I have better listening skills. I am more apt to listen first, and second before I offer advice to someone. I am willing to journey alongside people as they come to the conclusions of what they need to do and where they need to go in life. This is very refreshing! It relieves the pressure of me having to fix everyone… which obviously is impossible to do.

I have also struggled with trying to find my theoretical approach to counseling. Again, I have always viewed myself as a practical kind of guy who wanted to fix things and then move on. Because of this, I tried to fit myself into the mold of begin solution-focused. This fits sometimes, but is not the overarching fit for me. It may be my upbringing or it may be the way I am wired, but I have an intense desire to understand why people think and act they way they do. I want to know the underlying reasons for their behaviors. What is happening in their unconscious mind leading them to think and act the way they do? When I was in middle school and high school, my father completed an MSW program. I remember the family joke around the dinner table was we were going to ‘psychoanalyze people’ to understand why they were doing what they were doing. This became the running joke for us. But, there is much truth to it for me because learning this psychological motivation for why people do what they do is fascinating to me. I have seen how in my own life, this is the only real way to learn how to overcome the various struggles we have in our life. In my own journey of counseling, I tried to learn ways to manage attitudes, behaviors and thoughts; but it wasn’t until I uncovered the root cause that I was able to overcome it. I certainly don’t know all there is to know on this subject, but this program has assisted me in defining who I am as a counselor and what I want to know about my clients so I am able to help them.

While I can’t answer with certainty why I ended up in this program, I can say with certainty this program is the right one for me. I entered this program at a critical time in my life and it has been one of very few constants in my life over the last six and a half years. I have learned a great deal about myself. I have learned a great deal about how to manage myself. I have learned a great deal about how to assist other people who are facing similar circumstances in their lives. After much thought and consideration, I believe I am in this program because it fits well with who I am and how I desire to help people. I am glad I am on the verge of graduation. These last six years have been some of the most difficult years of my life and it has been the years where I have grown the most. This program has allowed me to realize the person I can be. I am thankful for being in the program and being able to complete this milestone.

By default

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As I have shared several times in the last week or so, I am wrapping up a masters in counseling. I have been in this program for a long time. When I initially started it I though I might want to be a counselor, then I decided I didn’t want to be. Then I did. Then I didn’t. Many items over the course of this program I have said I ended up in this program by default. I’m not really sure what that means or why I would say it, but I did. I think I was trying to justify why I wasn’t in an MSW (Masters of Social Work) program. As though I needed to justify it. I don’t. But I felt as though I did. Again, not sure why that is.

I don’t think I am in this program by default. I think I am in this program because it is what I needed at the time for my own redemption and salvation. Thanks to what was coming next in my life after I entered this program, I feel I am better equipped to serve people as a counselor than I could have ever imagined myself to be. It is said, the best substance abuse counselor a are addicts. They get it. They understand it. I wouldn’t necessarily hang my hat on that, but I can understand where the thinking comes from. Once you have descended into the depths, you are better equipped to assist others as they are walking there themselves.

I have descended into the depths of the pit of despair.

Strangely,this degree program was in many ways he therapy I desperately needed during some of the most critical times of my life. I will in fact make (and currently am) a wise and very efficient counselor. I am not here by default or because I couldn’t get in anywhere else. I could and did. I am here because it was what was best for me. For my growth. For my redemption.

I am not ashamed of wanting to be a counselor. It is a good job. Helping people who desperately need help. It is in reality so closely tied to what interested me about bible college too. If I am honest, being a counselor probably lines up the best with what I feel to be my God ordained and called purpose.

I don’t want to let that cat out of the bag tonight, but suffice it to say, I am in the right field. Servings he right kinds of people. I am being used where talents, gifts, abilities, passions, desires, skills and calling are best used.

I have not sold myself short. I have in fact found what may in reality be the real me. The me I was made to be. The me is who more at home here than anywhere else. These are not words I would have said at any time in the history of this program.

I am a counselor. I am not out of place.

and there you have it… I'm a MH geek.

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I am taking a break from doing some homework to take a minute and share with you why I have realized that I am a nerd, a geek of sorts. The homework I was working on was writing a progress note for my internship class tomorrow. Many of you know, I am wrapping up (in my last term!!) of a master’s in mental health counseling. I am taking my final class, internship, and we have to turn in progress notes similar to what we would have to keep in our client files while in real practice as a counselor. You may or may not be aware recently the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was updated to its fifth edition, the DSM 5. I have spent my entire counseling educational career learning the fourth edition.

Now I am learning the DSM 5.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining. At first, I thought this would suck… but as I get into it I think exactly the opposite. I am reading it… from the beginning and not just turning the ‘relevant’ pages I need at the moment. I started reading it for fun the other day. Yep, I’m that guy.

Back to my homework, which took longer than it should because I was just reading and reading regarding some of the disorders that were updated in the DSM 5. This is where my neediness or meekness comes out. Who reads the DSM 5 for fun?

No one.

It would be like reading a dictionary or encyclopedia because there wasn’t much else to do with your time. Well, not quite that bad, but close. I’m reading it for a couple of reasons. First, I have to know the DSM 5 in and out in order to be able to take a state licensure exam and pass it. Secondly, I would like to understand the edits made to improve the usefulness of the DSM 5. What better way to understand it than to read it?

From what I can tell (this is in no way an assessment or review of the DSM 5) efforts were made to streamline the DSM 5 and makes its implementation in clinical practice easier and more efficient. It would appear as though I have already drank the kool aid and decided I like it and want more. Lots more.

That’s ok. There is nothing wrong with embracing or accepting the changes that have come our way in the mental health community. The DSM 5 is here to stay whether we like it or not. Change is always hard, even when the change is very good, needed and necessary. I have concluded I am going to keep an open mind regarding the usefulness of the DSM 5 and read it to learn it. Does this make me a mental health geek/ nerd? Maybe. Frankly, I don’t know of any of classmates who are reading the DSM 5 for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of it.

What can I say? I stand out from the crowd. I do things differently than others.

And that I am very ok with.

and there you have it… I’m a MH geek.

20140115-231540.jpg

I am taking a break from doing some homework to take a minute and share with you why I have realized that I am a nerd, a geek of sorts. The homework I was working on was writing a progress note for my internship class tomorrow. Many of you know, I am wrapping up (in my last term!!) of a master’s in mental health counseling. I am taking my final class, internship, and we have to turn in progress notes similar to what we would have to keep in our client files while in real practice as a counselor. You may or may not be aware recently the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was updated to its fifth edition, the DSM 5. I have spent my entire counseling educational career learning the fourth edition.

Now I am learning the DSM 5.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining. At first, I thought this would suck… but as I get into it I think exactly the opposite. I am reading it… from the beginning and not just turning the ‘relevant’ pages I need at the moment. I started reading it for fun the other day. Yep, I’m that guy.

Back to my homework, which took longer than it should because I was just reading and reading regarding some of the disorders that were updated in the DSM 5. This is where my neediness or meekness comes out. Who reads the DSM 5 for fun?

No one.

It would be like reading a dictionary or encyclopedia because there wasn’t much else to do with your time. Well, not quite that bad, but close. I’m reading it for a couple of reasons. First, I have to know the DSM 5 in and out in order to be able to take a state licensure exam and pass it. Secondly, I would like to understand the edits made to improve the usefulness of the DSM 5. What better way to understand it than to read it?

From what I can tell (this is in no way an assessment or review of the DSM 5) efforts were made to streamline the DSM 5 and makes its implementation in clinical practice easier and more efficient. It would appear as though I have already drank the kool aid and decided I like it and want more. Lots more.

That’s ok. There is nothing wrong with embracing or accepting the changes that have come our way in the mental health community. The DSM 5 is here to stay whether we like it or not. Change is always hard, even when the change is very good, needed and necessary. I have concluded I am going to keep an open mind regarding the usefulness of the DSM 5 and read it to learn it. Does this make me a mental health geek/ nerd? Maybe. Frankly, I don’t know of any of classmates who are reading the DSM 5 for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of it.

What can I say? I stand out from the crowd. I do things differently than others.

And that I am very ok with.

The Beginning of the End

Tunnel
I started this journey in October of 2007… that’s over six years ago.

Six years ago.

Today is the beginning of the end. This is the first day of class of my last term in my masters in counseling. In 9 weeks I will graduate and complete this degree. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!!

These last six years have been some of the hardest years of my life. Not because of this education… this education was one of the very few constants in my life over these years.

I have learned much about myself, my wife, the resiliency of my children, what authentic community feels like, the pain of losing jobs, the difficulty of financial ruin, the anguish of mental breakdown, and most importantly the unending love of my savior for me.

I also learned about the healing of restoration, the excitement of redemption and the joy of emerging on the other side of intense pain & difficulty.

By the grace of God I have emerged victorious against my foes.

There is a sense of accomplishment that goes along with getting to this place in my life… but honestly, it isn’t the kind of feeling of accomplishment you might expect. I am proud of myself, but more than anything I am proud of the God who has gotten me through.

When I began this journey, this masters degree, I honestly wasn’t sure why I started it. I didn’t really want to be a counselor. I would have rathered an MSW (Master’s of Social Work)… I felt as though this was more up my alley and have continued to profess that over the course of 6 years. Each time reassuring myself when I complete this degree it will certainly help me in ministry. I no longer feel this way exclusively. It will help in ministry, but it also fits me very well. I enjoy counseling (actually I enjoy being on both sides of the couch, but that’s for another time) and believe I make a good counselor. I listen well. I have good insight. I offer sound, wise advice. I certainly have experienced my own pain in a way that is meaningful to others and in a way that resonates with them. I can help others because of what I have experienced. I am a better father and husband because of what I have experienced. I am more humble because of what I have experienced.

I have learned more than I can put into words about myself. One thing I have certainly learned is I am able to accomplish something. Over the last six years, more times than I care to recount, I have felt like a failure. I am not a failure.

Quite the opposite is true.

I am a Champion.

Today, I lift the head of the giant and celebrate my defiance. But the Lord is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. (Jeremiah 20:11 NASB)

Today is the beginning of the end.

Counselor or Therapist

Yesterday was a significant day for me.

I completed my first counseling session… as the counselor.

I got to be honest I enjoyed this much more than I anticipated I would. It felt great to be able to assist someone else in talking through their feelings. To be able to reaffirm them and the progress they are making in their life. I think I may like this even more than I could have imagined.

It felt good. Although a little weird. Being on the other side of the chair was different for me.

I was anxious, nervous and a little scared going into it. But as we began and the session went on the less nervous, anxious and scared I was. It flowed and I realized that I didn’t have to know all the right things to say at the beginning, I just had to listen and move the discussion where I felt it needed to go to assist them in processing their feelings.

I did know what to say. I did know how to lead the discussion. This shouldn’t surprise me, because I have been ‘counseling’ people for years as a pastor/minister. This is in a different context with rules that are little different, but the theory is the same. The mechanics are the same.

Wow. yesterday was a big day for me.

This journey is going to be a lot of fun.