Last week, my name was called, and as I walked across the stage, I received a Master’s of Philosophy in Education. A couple days later, I woke up disturbingly early, put on my cap and gown, stormed down to the field with 6,000 other graduates, heard the vice president speak, and had my degree officially conferred. This past week has been a whirlwind of celebration and emotion. As I begin to finally hunker down and email my CV to every open position I can find, I reflect on what I’ve gotten out of these past two years. While I’ve learned specific techniques and facts regarding the counseling profession, there has been an abundance of life lessons that I hope will get me towards LPC licensure and beyond.
It was the end of the day at my internship, and one of the patients was discharging. At some time during one’s final wrap-up group, the concept of acknowledging each other outside of the treatment setting comes up. As confidentiality ethics and laws (thanks HIPPA) stipulate that a therapist cannot disclose any information about a particular patient without their consent, I always go into the standard, “if you see us in real life, say hi because we can’t legally say hi to you first” spiel.
Whenever I have given this speech, it is usually met with one of three responses. One is the eye roll/blank stare/”there’s no way in hell I’m saying hi to you if I run into you” glare. As angry as I would expect to be with this response, I can legitimately appreciate the honesty of these individuals, as I’ve struggled to fully internalize the fact that clients lie (another post for another time). The second is something along the lines of, “oh my goodness of course I’ll say hi if I see any of you!” Some have been stated genuinely, where others have been as phony as…a telephone? And then there’s the hesitant, “if I say hi, will you say you’re my [teacher/family friend/distant cousin/classmate/circus performer I met once]?”