So, I figured out how to reach my clients, spirit to spirit. Yes, spirit to spirit. I don’t know how many of you believe in God and that’s ok, but just hear me out before you dismiss me. Counseling 101 teaches us to be congruent and empathic with our clients. So how can we do that if we don’t listen to what they are saying and try to force them to where we think they should be? Right you can’t effectively. So, I learned that once you do decide to listen empathically to your clients you’re listening to their spirit. Your listening to their soul that Is crying out for help. That negative energy, vibe, or character flaw that some people call it, is what I call a form of spirit or negative energy. A spirit, in most cases, that one is trying to get rid of. Galatians chapter 6:1 in the bible says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” So, let’s look at what I’m saying and how this applies to counselors.
A client come into your office with a very low countenance. As you begin to speak with them their appearance begins to change. They become more agitated or aroused as they speak about their situation. You lean in to show that you’re listening. A dialogue begins to form between the two of you. While doing this, you notice a change coming over your client. It’s a sense of relief and ease, gradually you can begin to feel a shift in the room. Your client that was once carrying a spirit of heaviness and weight, change to a more candor spirit. You see this is you speaking to the spirit of an individual. That negative energy that was once there is now filled with a sense of peace and control. You see, the client was over taken by their fault, issues or situation. However, due to your skill as a counselor and spiritual connection, you were able to restore them through meekness, which is patience and empathy. So where did all that negative energy go? Your client is restored, and you are now feeling drained, tired, and simply feeling a way that words can’t explain. What happened? Well at this point you have allowed your brethren fault to overtake you as the good book read in Galatians.
My Next Move
Well now that your feeling this crappy, it’s time to regroup, take a moment write out your notes, if you can process what happened in that session with another colleague, do it. If that is not possible, exercise. You must rid yourself from the negative energy some way. Once you do this, fill yourself up with positive energy. Take a relaxing bath, listen to your favorite music, or just take a nap. What every it takes to reenergize, do it and re-center yourself. The next day you will be ready to tackle the day, only this time you will be smarter and more aware of how to listen to your client and allow that negative energy to go out the room into someone hands that are greater than your own. Therefore, I leave you with this; Mathew 11: 28,29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
We are resilient, we are helpers, we are experts…we are human. As a counselor we are seen as helpers to many clients that suffers from harsh mind altering conditions; depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. We are exposed to the hurt, pain, frustration, sometimes trauma filled experiences of our clients on a day to day bases. However, because of who we are and the resilience that we possess, we continue to do our jobs as experts in the fill of helping. We continue to take on the dark secrets of others, and the shame that has fulfilled their lives. We are excited to see the evidence of our work when finally they are able to hold their heads up high and walk out of our door. However, what happened to all the baggage that has been dumped on to us? Who will help us as we continue with the wear and tear on our own mind and bodies?
Many times as counselors, we may find ourselves watching the clock periodically throughout the day hoping that time flies by. It’s not because we dislike our job, it’s simply because we are mentally drained, and emotionally exhausted. Ultimately, the lack of focus, may cause us to miss out on important points in our client’s story. Therefore, the client is forced into a state of preparation or back into the state of contemplation. We must stop allowing ourselves to be consumed by the negative energy over time and learn another avenue of how to dispose of it. In other words we must stop the burnout before it stops us and interfere with our clients which are in our society among us desperate to be helped and saved by us.
I know we have different outlets such as conferences to attend, counselor getaways, and other counselors to talk to, but what do we do in the mean time before these events roll around. Where is our outlet? How many of us take our own advice as far as the famous “self-care.” Time and time again we take our work home with us. Many times we have that one case of the day that we can’t shake. Trying to come up with different strategies and hoping for the best for our client. Meanwhile, our mind never stops working. This is why I felt this blog is so important for us, the counselors. We can know that we need to avoid the burnout or compassion fatigue, but unless we actually take the time out for ourselves every day or every other day, burnout still wins in the end. How many times have you painted just to relax, took a warm relaxing bath with music and candles, made time to visit your good friends, played sports or watched your favorite sport live, lastly but not least have read a good book? In the book The Resilient Practitioner, Thomas Skovholt, gives a self-care action plan, speaks about resiliency, and provide a revised resiliency inventory for us to use.
As counselors we do a lot, we take on a lot, why not embrace ourselves a lot. If we don’t take care of ourselves we will not be able to adequately take care of our clients. I dare you to take care of yourself. There are different techniques and information out here in the world of counseling for us to combat burnout and compassion fatigue let’s use it and continue to be strong, confident, effective in our lives and in our client’s lives.