My journey toward receiving a Master of Science in Counselor Education is one step closer toward completion. I learned and accomplished a lot this semester. I gained over 100 hours of professional experience during my practicum, and the four clients that I counseled taught me more than I taught them. While reviewing my taped sessions, I quickly noticed how the counseling room’s atmosphere drastically changed depending on which client was before me. People’s emotions are palpable and powerful, and they create movement that affects relational dynamics like a cast stone creates ripples in a lake. Emotions contain energy that I quickly absorb, and I had to learn how to embrace that energy without losing the neutrality that is needed to be an effective counselor. I also learned that I need help with confrontation. It is a personal issue that I will continue to explore throughout my professional career. Like any personal issue, a counselor’s struggle has absolutely nothing to do with the client. My inability to confront a client when needed says much more about my selfish need to be liked and loved than it does about my client’s anxiety, depression, or whatever issues he or she is experiencing. This struggle this semester reiterated the part of our ethical code that states we need to promote the welfare of our clients. How I am promoting my clients’ welfare if I refuse to confront them about something that hinders their growth because of my own selfish needs? Their growth is much more important than the fear of having my feelings hurt. On a less serious note, I passed the National Counselor Exam that I took in October! Studying for that exam required a lot of time and devotion (and money), but the results were well worth the effort. This semester also changed my life because for the first time I began to seriously consider and explore the option of pursuing my doctorate in a few years. To prepare for this new life goal, I am taking a Directed Individual Study (DIS) next semester with one of my professors in which I will begin researching a possible topic for my future doctoral studies. I shared with you before that ballet is a huge part of my life. (See my previous post entitled “Ballerina Counselor.”) Therefore, during my DIS, I will investigate the mental health needs of professional ballet dancers. There is so much literature about sports psychology and mental stressors for those professionals, but what about ballet dancers? What does the current literature say about their needs? What can we do as counselors to help them be as mentally healthy as possible (especially when so many struggle with extreme perfectionism and eating disorders)? I share this life goal with you, my fellow graduate students, colleagues, and dear readers, because I want your accountability in accomplishing this goal. One of the joys of blogging for and being a part of ACA is having an instant community that shares in this professional development journey. Will you share this journey with me? Because I look forward to sharing it with you.
Courtnay Veazey is a counselor in training at Mississippi State University pursuing a Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling and working as a graduate assistant at MSU's Career Center