This weekend I attended the New York Mental Health Counselor's Association Convention in Albany, NY. I immediately connected with the warmth in my colleague's faces and felt welcomed. Looking at the day’s schedule, each presentation seemed intriguing. Each topic promised to teach me something. I registered for the conference hoping to learn new skills and feel refreshed. Gaining new knowledge brings new confidence. Looking back at our pictures and conference materials, however, I am recognizing it was friends, colleagues and members of my local NYMCHA chapter gathered together who made the experience worth it.
My Counselor community is strong. We support one another with fresh ideas and the wisdom of practices that are decades-strong. The folks I meet with for coffee and for supervision uplift and encourage each other to take risks, grow and learn. Starting my private practice has been fulfilling and nourishing partly because of the team of brave and inspiring clinicians who are helping me along. I want to share my observations of what seems to encourage, inspire and connect us.
The first thing I notice about the group of professionals I work with is positivity and optimism. It is seductively easy to complain about our work whether it’s insurance companies or the challenges of creating and maintaining a therapy group. We seem to be mindful about encouragement, support, and hope about our profession and about the possibilities for each of our work. This excites me and helps me feel energized about my work.
- Passion for our field and profession
We feel strongly about our identity as Counselors and recognize our strengths, scope of practice and what makes us unique. We think about the capacity we have to heal and change people, families and communities. We try to spread the word through networking and also by helping each other remember how much potential we have.
- Intergenerational leadership/informal mentoring
We teach each other and offer one another opportunities. Some of us know things others do not, so we share information and ideas freely. We sincerely wish for one another to be successful and a range of ideas are respected and considered.
- Lots of ways to connect
We can reach out online, in person, at different meeting times and places. Have a social media page and a website to communicate meeting times and show off your member accomplishments. Not all can meet every time and that is ok. We can reach out with a question and expect to get an answer or information.
Without some of these connections, I would be feeling burned out and depleted. If you are feeling disconnected or even lonely in your field, try reaching out to your community or work on building it up. Draw from your own histories and look at groups of people you belong to and notice what works. If there are aspects missing from your counselor's community, consider the potential for change. When Counselor's support one another, we can better support our clients.
________________________________________________________________________Amy Rosechandler, MS, LMHC is a counselor in Rochester, NY working with teens and adults at a local university counseling center and in her own private practice, Clarity Mental Health Counseling. Amy adores group counseling, youth development, and strengths based approaches to therapy. Read more about Amy at http://claritymentalhealth.org/about.php