What It’s Like To Be A Mental Health Counselor: Update, Part I

I first wrote about this 7 years ago (in 2012), so I thought it would be interesting to see if any of my answers have changed. This is the first in a 3-post series.

This Job Is Strange

7 years ago:
Counseling people is like having emotionally intense conversations with friends all day long. Only, the conversations are mostly one-way, and since you don’t know the client, the emotions reside mostly with them. It’s a really strange thing. It’s like having intimacy with strangers all day long. They open up to you, tell you heart-wrenching things, and you sit there and think about them like they are a puzzle. Then, they pay you and leave. Very odd now that I sit here and think about it.

Now:
I no longer think my job is strange. It seems perfectly normal to get paid for one-way emotional intimacy.

It Skews Our Reality

7 years ago:
We enter the lives of our clients when they are at their worst and leave when they are at their best. Sometimes I think this skews our sense of reality. For example, the other day I read about all of these people who are actually happy at their jobs. I couldn’t believe it- I actually thought virtually everyone was miserable. Yet here was an entire list of people talking about how they loved their jobs. Same thing when I see a happy couple- I think it’s an anomaly, or that it’s just a matter of time until they need counseling. We have to be careful to balance our lives so that we see things in a more balanced way. Now I understand why one of my counseling professors told us to garden.

Now:
I now see things in more shades of grey. My current thought is that we are helping them with a specific issue, in a specific slice of time. Just because they are struggling in one area does not mean they are struggling overall. Therefore, I think my overall outlook on the human condition has improved.

In my next post, I will continue the discussion.

Yours in the Joy of Knowledge,

Barb LoFrisco