Saturday, February 22, 2014

What it takes

I had a rather interesting experience the other night.

I got a chance to role-play as a counselor with someone who is also studying to be a counselor, just as I am; she played the role of the client - which for me was quite the thing because she has more experience than I do at being in a counseling role!

Since I am bound by counselor-client confidentiality, I can't tell anyone what we discussed. However, I can talk about something that happened that meant a great deal to me in that few minutes and in the few minutes that followed, as my group members gave me some feedback of what they observed me doing and saying.

Before I do, though, I need to make a confession. 

I didn't know whether or not I would make a good counselor. I wondered if, after all was said and done, my courses passed and then entering my practicum (estimated time of arrival for that will be Spring 2015) ... whether I was really "cut out" for counseling.

I had heard people tell me that I would be a great counselor. I had gotten support and encouragement from my family, from my friends and from colleagues. And I appreciate everyone's faith in me. It really helps.

But that night was different. That night there were people listening to me, watching me, and evaluating my responses in "real time".  People that have already been in the leather chair, so to speak. 

My office space inviting me

I was so incredibly nervous. I found myself fumbling, grasping for words. And then as I listened to my "client," it happened. I became engrossed in her story. I started listening rather than thinking of what to say next. 

When we were done (the whole thing took under 10 minutes) my colleagues (including my "client") told me what they thought. Honestly. As they described my skills to me from their objective points of view, it was such a boost to my confidence level. It was also a relief that perhaps I hadn't been barking up the wrong tree when I decided to pursue this degree, and it made me very grateful that I had an opportunity to practice these skills in a safe environment (instead of being thrown into the deep end! and I'm not a swimmer, folks...) 

What I'm learning as a result of these interactions and my readings is that even if I don't have a particular skill, I can develop that skill with practice. And if I DO have a particular skill, I can hone it with practice. Plus, if I need to get some feedback or talk about an area that I feel I am weak in, I can talk to someone who has been at it for a lot longer, and gain some insight from him or her. 

I'm not in this alone. And whether or not I have 'what it takes' ... I have people around me who will make sure that I get it. 

That's worth a whole lot to me.

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