Like any intern or counselor, my days are filled with ups and downs. I’m learning that the downs can really get you down, like difficult clients, sticky institutional issues, and personal problems. These can quickly sap my energy and make me less open when I work with my clients.
The result? The ups can sometimes be hard to see. For a while there, I felt like I’d never see any ups. Halfway through the semester, though, I’m starting to see them. Some of the outside things are taking care of themselves, like finding a good (great!) job, getting past some internship organizational obstacles, and getting used to being a really, really long-distance student.
I wanted to share a few of these, and to say thank you to the people that have stuck by me so far, making sure that I have what I need to learn and to be an effective intern. These little successes are not mine alone!
First, a client has found ways to tap into her own resources in order to move past the negative events surrounding her life recently. Basically, she came up with the ideas and I just helped her figure out when to use them. I have learned so much about resiliency and positive attitude from her and she has so much more to teach me.
Another client thanked me for showing her how to check her email and can’t wait to practice and learn a little more this week. This experience was a wake-up call to me in exactly how much I take my computer experience for granted--she’s a complete beginner on the computer, right down to how to hold the mouse and how hard to hit the keys so the letters only type once. Moreover, she thanked me for having the time and patience to stick with her. I’m taking this as meaning that I did a great job of staying present and patient with her and that I have it in me to do this in even more challenging situations.
This weekend, I held a little Halloween social for the residents. Aside from the homemade brownies and plentiful candy, they were genuinely thrilled about the break in routine and felt free to relax a little. Some even shared real-life ghost stories! I enjoyed seeing how they interacted in a less formal setting. And as we watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” I took advantage of having to be there without multitasking and simply focused on enjoying one of my favorite holiday specials.
So in short, I’m learning how to manage the downs and capitalize on the ups. I’m sure some very difficult days of counseling lie ahead, but I’m learning how to look for the tiny, daily ups that keep us all going. It’s great to see all those tiny things I’ve been doing pay off in positive ways!
Kristen Eckhardt is a counselor-in-training at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, completing her internship this year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Read more about her experiences and her takes on counseling issues at www.feetintwoworlds.wordpress.com.