I do a little graphic design in the little spare time that I have. Sometimes, in order to achieve a certain effect I use a tool called Masking. This is a way to define parts of your artwork as being hidden from view. Rather than having to delete unwanted parts of my image, photo, or art, I can define an area that acts like a window - anything that appears within the borders of the shape is visible, and anything that falls outside its boundaries is not visible. The main benefit derived from using masks is that you aren’t deleting anything from your file. When you use masks in a file and are required to make changes, you’ll never have to re-create art that you’ve already deleted. Instead, everything that you create is always in the file, and you simply choose what is or isn’t visible.
As a counselor-in-training, one of my personal concerns has been the potential impact of my professional life on my private life. Already, I find myself secretly diagnosing and planning therapy approaches for my own family, friends, and co-workers. I have to say that I do find this new habit a little unsettling at times. I have discovered, though, that the more I try to distinguish my roles, the more the barrier diminishes. Is it recommended or even practical to think of and approach our ‘calling’ separately from our personal living? Should we be masking our role as counselor when we are with family and friends?
My thoughts are that because of the nature of our profession, it is unlikely (maybe impossible) to temporarily stop being a counselor. It is like trying to stop being who we are. Our profession does not allow us to leave our tools at the office at the end of the day; unlike a surgeon, a firefighter, or a computer programmer our main tool is ourselves. Imagine a fish deciding it does not want to swim anymore because it loves corals and either wants to become one or finds it unfair that they cannot swim. If it was possible, I believe the fish would feel less of a fish because of its inability to swim. Swimming is a part of the very nature of a fish. Likewise, counseling is part of who we are and what we do.
Masking is essential to being a counselor. Masking allows us to maintain who we are and what we do. While I do not believe diagnosing our family and friends is always a safe thing to do, it can be very beneficial sometimes. For example, I imagine those of us who are parents of teenagers get a chance to be counselors all day. One of the key things for us is to create balance (and most times be discreet). Attempting to turn off the counselor switch at-will benefits no one. As in masking, it is more effective to decide when, not if, to reveal and use the counseling element of who we are.
I would love to hear additional counsel on this approach.
Pete Saunders is a graduate student at Capella University. He also writes a weekly blog and conducts a weekly video interview on manhood at razorsanddiapers.com