What I want my clients to know

I consider myself blessed beyond what I deserve. I get to do a job that I genuinely love. Many people find counseling mysterious and confusing. Unless you’ve been through the process it is hard to know what to expect. When working with clients—whether it is deep brain work, psychoeducation, or just discussing the process of therapy—I find myself saying the similar things to different clients. I think this is because we are all human, and we all have similar needs and emotions. I want to take a moment to share things I want my clients to know—things that come up often and a few that don’t.

Our work is never done.

We are never there. During a challenging time in my own adult life I found myself saying “I should be over this by now!”. The truth is, though, we will always have work to do, and this is a gift. We never stop growing.

We are all broken.

One unique aspect of my work is that I get a window into the lives of vastly different individuals from all walks of life—all ages, life stages, socioeconomic classes, genders, and races. Trauma, pain, and grief do not discriminate. We all experience the same emotions and the same pain in different ways. This has exposed some of my own bias. I used to play the comparison game, weighing the pain of others against my own. This leads to shame and judgement. We are all broken. We all need healing.

Healing does not make things easier.

In fact, healing may make things more difficult. Change is hard and risky (See my post on what makes healing so hard). Maintaining health whether its physical, psychological, or emotional requires ongoing care and work. At times, people seek counseling to validate their pain but choose not to change because it is just too hard.

Your only job is to show up—physically and emotionally.

It is not your job to make sure we have something to talk about or to ensure counseling is moving in a certain direction. I believe counseling is best when it is purposeful and will use my skills to move us in what we have decided together is the best direction. Showing up means being as honest as possible and having the courage to be seen.

I have great admiration for your courage.

Change and growth are difficult and at times excruciating. To change requires risk and vulnerability, both of which require great courage. The ways we adapt and survive are amazing. I get a front row seat to the most profound displays of resilience. It is humbling and incredible.

I am human.

I am going to get it wrong. I am going to make assumptions. If we work together long enough, I am going to let you down. This can be a source of great learning and growth for both of us. I am also human in the fact that I can not do your work for you. It is arrogant to believe I can change anyone in one hour a week if at all. The work is yours, and you can choose to do it or not—but this is a difficult and personal decision.

It is not your responsibility to make my job easier.

Sometimes you may worry that your pain will affect me. It does affect me. I grieve the brokenness of the world when I sit with your pain. But it is my job to care for myself and ask for help when I need it. I limit the hours I work so that I can be fully present. I maintain emotional boundaries, so I can sit with your pain but not adopt it as my own. I have people who I lean on. I work hard to practice what I preach in this regard. I need you to trust me to do this work.

My job would not be sustainable without faith.

This is very much related to what I said above. The world is broken, and people are hurting. I hear devastating stories on a weekly basis. My job would not be sustainable without faith. I could not do what I do if I believed that this world was all there is. Praise God that this is not all there is! My faith is a great source of comfort and hope for me. In a deeper sense, I recognize that I am also broken and redeemed. I rely on God to give me eyes to see people, maintain compassion, connect, and foster healing.

clark-23

I hope you can tell that I find great purpose and joy in my work. Counseling is not a job to me. It is my calling. I am so grateful to everyone who lets me be a part of the journey. Thank you.

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