While studying and practicing in the mental health profession, I’ve heard many people say that those who enter the profession often have a particular reason: their own problems. If it’s not their own problems, they want to figure out why other people in their lives have acted the ways they do. Well, for goodness sake, don’t we all!?
While I do think exposure to people with mental health issues and exposure to events that could provoke an episode of instability may create a sensitivity in people to those who suffer from such conditions and such circumstances, I have a great deal of trepidation making any kind of statement about the experiences of those who enter the helping profession. That reason is because we all, as human beings, suffer.
People who enter the mental health profession are usually quite aware of their own wounds. They understand their own suffering as human beings well enough in order to take on the training to work through it so that they may help others with theirs. There is a big difference between licking one’s own wounds and learning from one’s own wounds so that one may grow and help others.
Counselors need counseling just as much as anyone else, if not more. We must take responsibility for our wounds, their effects, and our past, so that we can work with our clients without harmful transference. We are human too. We need help. And, thank goodness, we can also provide it.
Kristy L. Carlisle is a school counselor and a mental health counselor in training at Rider University. Her interests include protecting children from cyber-bullying and from food addiction.