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Feb 27, 2013

Keeping it Simple

Busy with internship and last stretch of graduate school. Trying to keep family going smoothly while earning some money. Might as well be turning water into wine or tin into gold. Wanna write – need to write – not writing.

That’s me since I began my internship as a domestic violence and sexual assault counselor/advocate this fall. I’m not complaining – busy is good and I am quite the guru when it comes to self-care (as I quasi-preach to my clients). I meditate and exercise and all that good stuff, but what has become of my ability to reach out through my blog? I enjoy reading other ACA blogs and I’m continually amazed at the great information that is available through this type of communication. You can see the world of the counselor and learn about all corners of the world.

I think the reality of working as a mental health professional is hitting me and along with the ultimate rewards there is a great deal of frustration with clients being ambivalent, office politics and – with my particular specialty – dealing with a legal system that still primarily views children as property and women as second-class citizens. I don’t have a savior complex, although I am attracted to counseling because I want to help people. But as my Dad used to say to me (maybe) “it’s time to take off my rose colored glasses.” He considered this a piece of constructive criticism, but I digress.

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of reality – that’s why I am an artist and a writer. I like to bend, stretch and knead reality to my liking in my work…no such luxury is available when working with clients struggling with the legal system. Cold and hard, are the facts – not much gray area here.

So my rose colored lens are gone and replaced with social-justice lenses. As I see from my amazing supervisor and colleagues at my office, looking at the big picture is imperative. Each client we advocate brings us another step toward wronging rights and effecting social change. Even when it is difficult, especially when it is difficult, working for the betterment of society has to be simply about that. I guess that brings us back to self-care: Keep it Simple.

Susan Jennifer Polese is a counselor in training, a personal coach and a freelance writer. Her areas of interest are mindfulness, divergent thinking, and creativity in counseling.

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