ACA Blog

Joan Phillips
Sep 28, 2010

Cross Training For Counselors-One Exercise To Consider

Many industries are focusing these days on cross training, preparing workers for different parts of the job to increase coverage and back-up as well as strengthen the overall workforce. In sports, to cross train develops strength and stamina. How about in counseling? We are not in a race nor do we work in teams usually toward a production goal. But we are in a rigorous profession that requires a large degree of self-discipline while still maintaining our flexibility. Sounds like a sport more and more. And our "product" is one of the most important I can imagine- healthy lives. All that said- I have one suggestion today for a cross-training exercise- a book I just read that really invigorated my thinking about clients, students and supervisees. The book is “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” by Tina Seelig (2009). The rest of the title is “a crash course on making your place in the world” and that it is!

A student shared it with me and it has exercised part of my thinking and motivation that needed it- it’s not just for twenty-somethings at all. I have a few decades on that and it still spoke loud and clear to me. The author is described on the book jacket as “an entrepreneur, neuroscientist, and popular teacher” and in all roles she offers a lot to helping professionals although her audience and teaching area is more in the business world. To say this is “thinking outside the box” is to under-rate what she is presenting.

Her examples of exercises and thought processes in problem solving are amazing to put it mildly. Negotiating skills are a huge part of family life and the chapters on that will again open your thinking about skills you and families both can use in negotiating change. It’s a quick read, only slowed by the time you will have to take in putting it down and thinking about how her ideas and stories can inform your own life and practice. As an art therapist, her use of metaphor and narrative fits perfectly into how I conceptualize my work with clients. I think you will find it invigorating and useful too.



Joan Phillips is a counselor, art therapist, and marriage and family therapist. She maintains a private practice and teaches at the University of Oklahoma.

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