Not too long ago, I received my first counseling paycheck. I couldn’t believe it. It felt pretty surreal to finally get paid for what I’d been doing for free for so long. In a strange way, it was very empowering. Someone was affirming my work by paying me. Many of us do not go into this vocation thinking we will make lots and lots of money. That’s not what this whole experience was about- it was about so much more than the monetary value of the check (which- let’s be honest- wasn’t very much in and of itself!).
Somewhere along the way, something clicked so that I wasn’t fearful of doing this work. At some point, I gained confidence in myself, and I actually came to believe that I could act as a companion to others along their journeys. I acknowledged my insecurities, but I didn’t give them so much power. While I’ve experienced a lot of change and loss and hardship in my personal life in the past year that could have contributed to this change in perspective, I cannot help but think that my own therapeutic process has contributed to my feeling more than able to sit with others. I finally feel like I am enough.
In September, I will have spent a year with my therapist. Indirectly, she taught me about what it means to be genuine. She has been honest with me, which has taught me how to be honest with others. She has been present in our sessions and has really listened to me, which has taught me that presence is everything. Caring is everything! She has laughed and cursed and furrowed her brows in sadness and concern- right alongside me. She’s helped me find ME, which, in essence, has helped me be myself in session with others. And then guess what? They can be themselves- whatever that unique self might be.
Being in my own therapeutic process has been just as important as my academic counseling training. And more than my academic training was able to provide, therapy allowed me to find the confidence I always knew I had. Academia caused that confidence to go into hiding as I encountered so much in the “scary, theoretical world of the unknown”. Therapy has helped me to be genuine in the room with another individual.
Throughout my therapeutic process, I’ve realized that I don’t have to be the “perfect counselor” or have all the answers (or any answers somedays!). I can be present. I can allow the spirit of all that I am CONNECT with the spirit of another.
Being in therapy has freed me.
As a result, I feel even more honored to help others free themselves too.
Megan Broadhead is a counselor who is entangled in the pursuit of theological and psychological integration and women's issues, for more information go to www.missintermission.com