Let me preface this post with a story: I’m in the break room with fellow counselors when I overhear this, “I won’t take any client with PTSD, especially a rape victim; they are especially difficult.” I stare blankly at my colleague, simply astonished. I am ashamed at her commentary and at this very moment I am ashamed of my profession. Obviously, she does not know my story. I say abruptly, that I will take the client and I leave the room. I’m still in shock over the nonchalant cast of judgement. I guess she doesn’t know that when she is referring to that “difficult client” She is referring to me. It honestly boils down to perspective… I don’t look the part and gosh what counselor is going to admit that they too have problems… I am. I practice what I preach.
I tell my clients that its OK to be honest and vulnerable. I help them to find and embrace their true selves- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not without problems and my trauma does not make me a bad counselor. In fact it makes me a better one. It humbles me and allows me to be way more empathetic. I can walk with a client on their journey because I can resonate with their pain. I’ve see the edge of darkness and I confront my demons everyday. It makes me a better person. Many counselors never admit they have any problems because they want to be seen as the experts. I am not an expert and neither are they…. shocking, I know.
I cannot fix anyone, nor do I subscribe to the notion that anyone needs to be fixed. I am honored to walk side by side with my clients on their journey. I am honored to share in their stories and get a glimpse into their extraordinary lives. I learn and grow from my clients. Their stories shape who I am personally and professionally. I have never been given a gift greater than a person’s story. I respect my profession and honor it.
With that being said, please educate yourself. Not all counselors are alike and some can do more damage than good. Only go to a counselor who goes to a counselor. Everyone has stuff they need to address but make sure your counselor practices what they preach. There are good counselors out there and I hope you find a great one! Your story deserves to be honored and your journey is your own.