lovewhatyoudo“How do you do this (counseling) all day long?”  Usually this is asked at the end of a particularly difficult or emotional session.  It’s often followed by the statement, “I couldn’t do what you do”.  The truth is, I probably couldn’t do what you do.  Not day in and day out.  I believe one’s vocation is a calling.  We usually think of ministers and missionaries as “being called” to the pastorate or the mission field.  I think God has plans and designs for each of us and some are called to be counselors or bankers or truck drivers, and some are even called (though I think it’s more a curse than a blessing) to be Junior High math teachers. Counseling is what I do, it’s a part of who I am; it is what I have been called to do.

That is the short answer.  A longer answer is comprised of three parts. First, I have a well defined sense of self and very firm boundaries.  In other words, I don’t take responsibility for the outcome or direction of your life.  My job is to be the best counselor I know how to be for the time you are in my office.  What happens after counseling is over is up to you. That doesn’t mean I don’t care (I do) or that I don’t worry about you as you leave my office (I try to keep that to a minimum but the reality is some of my clients are in a really tough place).  It does mean that I take responsibility for my life and I expect my clients to take responsibility for theirs.

I don’t do the same thing hour after hour, day after day.  Counseling is a process made up of different parts or phases.  Some of my day is spent doing assessments: figuring out what is really going on in order to create the most effective treatment plan.  Being a good diagnostician is like being a detective.  I question, probe, and investigate.  I analyze, summarize, and interpret.  At other times I teach skills: communication skills, problem-solving skills, parenting skills, etc.  I get to take off my detective hat and put on my educator hat.  Still other parts of my day are spent listening, empathizing, and understanding.  On occasion I confront people, at other times I explain how they are quite normal and anyone would react/think/feel as they are.  Counseling is much more than just sitting in a chair murmuring “And how do you feel about that?”.  I actually enjoy those difficult situations that require me to call upon all of my training and experience; even if the client never realizes just how much work that is.

Finally, I do what I do all day long because I take pride in my work.  I make a difference in people’s lives… and that’s more than a lot of people can say.