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Feb 10, 2014

Dear Practicum Students

Dear Practicum Students,

I am writing to share with you what I learned the hard way.


I walked into my practicum with a stereotype in mind. I expected to see a couch in counseling. Also, I expected to meet individually with clients and discuss clinical issues, such as: mood, anxiety, grief, trauma, and depression. I believed that this was the definition of counseling.


My practicum site was an art program at a group home. There were no clients - only consumers. Counselors facilitated group sessions. Instead of a couch, there were folding tables, brushes, paint, and yarn. What was my role as a counselor? Why were the consumers reluctant to meet with me individually?

I tried to do what my supervisor did. I greeted, supported, guided, encouraged, and processed with the consumers. Was this “counseling”?

Yes, it was.

I had realized something. These adults lived with their therapist. How would you feel in their shoes? Would you be interested in discussing your hallucinations, depression, and flashbacks every day?


I now understand that counseling is not defined by its looks. I learned to apply my excellent training in versatile ways. My professional identity does not shift with the job description. I will always be a counselor.

I am grateful for this experience. Not having a couch to ‘rest’ my expectations was unnerving but I managed to adjust.


Please pay it forward and share your own lessons with pre-practicum counselors-in-training.

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