I want each of you to know something: your counselor cares about you and thinks your story is important. Our passion lies in seeing you succeed and planting seeds to help you along the way. And you might not realize this, but you help your counselor too. We’re just humans helping humans.
When I think about the people I’ve counseled, a line from the Broadway musical Wicked comes to mind: Because I knew you, my life has been changed for good. That’s right, our conversations that help you explore and understand your world are good for me too. I often hear remarks from people who say they could never do what I do for a living. They wonder how I hear all the stories I hear and not let it affect me. The truth is I usually think the same thing about the work they do and, to be honest, it does affect me sometimes but not in the way people assume. While I’ve imagined what I’d do if I wasn’t a counselor (write books, teach) I’m grateful for my job and for the people who let me walk with them on their journey to wholeness.
So I’d like to share with you some of the influential moments, shared connections, and ah-ha moments that stick out to me.
1. To my client who wasn’t afraid to tell me I’d gotten it wrong, by trying to fixing it when all you needed was me to be present and listen, I needed to learn that lesson more than you could know.
2. To my client who trusted me to learn about your shame through shallow breathing, shaky hands, and a lowered head, you taught me that, above all, we’re all human. A textbook couldn’t teach me how to respond to these delicate moments.
3. To my client who was much older than me but still trusted me right out of graduate school, you played a huge role in my confidence and helped me believe in myself.
4. To my client who was much younger than me and was unsure if I could relate, you’ve taught me so much and have reminded me to love my inner child. Thank you for reminding me to not take myself so seriously.
5. To my clients with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, thank you for sharing your story with me and teaching me about white privilege. Because of you, I feel empowered to be a part of the changes our society needs to work together, be stronger, and fight hate.
6. To my client who taught me about your spiritual journey and the difference between spirituality and religion, you’ve opened my eyes and shown me how beautiful the universe and life are. My other clients also thank you for helping me expand my understanding.
7. To my client who disagreed with me, your honesty was refreshing and it pulled me out of a therapeutic slump. I can’t thank you enough. I think back to this moment often in times needed growth.
8. To my client who allowed me to be human and flawed, your compassion was exactly what I needed. Thank you for being okay with a counselor who isn’t perfect.
9. To my client who fired me as their counselor, your insight and honesty saved us both a lot of discomfort and pain and it’s helped me recognize that I’m not a good therapeutic fit for all clients.
10. To my client who moved from suspicious and guarded to exclaiming gratitude for therapy and personal growth, you give me hope that the stigma against seeking support for mental health is shrinking. Future people will need your support.
11. To all of my clients, thank you for propelling me away from assumption and towards curiosity and acceptance. Judgment doesn’t look good on anybody.
I’m reminded of yet another quote: 1 universe, 9 planets, 204 countries, 809 islands, and 7 seas and I had the privilege of meeting you. Dear client, your counselor thanks you.