I had planned to do a “one-year reflection” type of post this week, but an unexpected circumstance has been making it difficult to reflect back on the past year. That post will be slightly delayed.
It was a Thursday morning like any other. Swipe in, head to my office, check emails, grab charts for the day. As I grab the pile of green folders, the support staff coordinator says hi and shares some unsettling news.
“Hey, do you remember so-and-so? She died.”
Some self-disclosure: I’ve never been on the other side of the couch.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I went to a child psychologist when I was three or four – my parents regale me with tales of my “weirdness” as a child (apparently speaking entirely in quotes from Winnie the Pooh is “abnormal”…but really, what do they know?), but I only have a few vivid memories from my childhood (someone can analyze me on that one). There was the time in 10th grade, when I got sent to the guidance counselor after my grandfather died. And there was my one-therapy-stand in college to deal with re-adjusting after studying abroad, where my therapist’s coldness and judgmental attitude only strengthened my desire to enter this field.
But since then, I’ve only been the therapist, rather than the client. And as I begin to establish a career in the mental health world, I’m realizing how problematic that is.
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]?”
Earlier this evening, I was putting off searching for jobs/sprucing up my cover letters and paroozing the interwebs when a friend of mine posted this link on Facebook.
The Facebook share has been posted for about an hour, and there have been a variety of comments made. Some thanking my friend for sharing the “powerful” article, others criticizing the writer for referring to the tragedy in Boston as a “white” tragedy and insinuating that the writer is over-reacting to to societal racism and the significant lack of untold stories of non-whites in the media (side note: every single commentator on this Facebook post was white).