ACA Blog

Dec 16, 2013

Pillow Thoughts

As a new counselor, I sometimes struggle with balancing the fine line between my personal and professional life.  For one, it can be tempting to take home a therapy session – but I’m not talking about paperwork here (come on, who wants to take that home?).  Instead, I’m referring to the unfinished work during my sessions.  At the end of the day, as I’m driving home, eating dinner, or even getting ready for bed, I’m filled with thoughts such as, “Could I have better phrased that one statement?” or “Did I use a powerful enough analogy?”  Something even more difficult that comes to mind, particularly after sessions with children who engage in self-harming behaviors is, “Was what I said enough to keep her from hurting herself tonight?” It’s so easy to let such thoughts surface during my downtime.

I also can’t help but wonder sometimes if I fit the stereotype of the typical therapist who analyzes every new person she meets, in and outside of my work hours.  Just last night at dinner with friends, the topic of being a therapist came up in conversation.  Naturally, I was asked about my “professional” opinion of someone.  As lighthearted as it was, I still found myself pausing for a second to reflect on my judgment before laughing it off.  It made me realize how important it is to draw the line between my work and personal persona – not just for my own sanity, but so I’m mentally refreshed when I’m actually supposed to be analyzing.  I keep hearing from other well-seasoned counselors that it gets easier with time.  Here’s to hoping that this is true.
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Sadaf Siddiqi is a certified counselor with an interest in mental health research and its application to children and families. Please share your thoughts with her at ssiddi12@jhu.edu.

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