It was only a short eight months ago that I walked into the session room for the first time as a student counselor, trembling with anxiety. “What if my client doesn’t like me?” “What if they realize that I have no idea what I’m doing?” “How the heck am I supposed to help a person who is at least 15 years older than me?” “How am I supposed to know if I am ready for this?” I remember how thick these questions weighed down upon me like a cloud in my first session.
As time went by, these questions have continued to weigh upon me without much closure. However, I have come to terms with the fact that as humans, whenever we do anything really big and important in life, there is bound to be some anxiety and discomfort. In my own journey, I am working towards living with excellence and passion as I pursue my dreams as a counselor and as an authentic person. My greatest hope in life is to inspire people with a positive message because we are each capable of making a huge impact in the world. We must learn to walk the path that takes us through some of the most difficult experiences in order to create life full of purpose, meaning, and joy.
Hi there! I’m Hanna Rodriguez and I am a counselor in training at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Right now, I work with clients who experience problem gambling and co-occurring disorders. I love dancing at weddings, practicing yoga, being a runner, drinking way too much coffee sometimes and learning to cook healthy foods. I am passionate about helping people learn to live healthier, more balanced lifestyles. I am interested in the connection between mental illness and lifestyle factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and stress-management.
Although I recognize the necessity for mental illness diagnoses and specified treatment, I prefer to view mental health issues from the wellness perspective. Solution focused brief therapy explains that whatever we focus on with our clients tends to become greater and larger. This means that when we focus on the client’s problems, such as “how depressed is the client,” or “how bad is this client’s condition,” we tend to only expand on the client’s problem of depression as if there should be some remedy for that problem. Clients often come to us expecting a cure, as if to say “as soon as this depression goes away, I will be able to pursue the life that I want.”
However, I believe that suffering is a normal part of the human condition and that some problems or diagnoses faced by clients may not ever be completely solved or cured. Therefore, I take the perspective that the client can learn to live a healthy, meaningful life while also facing difficult mental illnesses that may not ever completely disappear. In this perspective, the focus becomes “how can we move this client towards their values in the midst of her struggles?” I believe that clients can learn to thrive by choosing to direct their lives towards their most important values. Self-acceptance and lifestyle balance are two of the tools that I use to help clients realize their potential for vitality.
Personally, I have come a long way in my own life. I still struggle with those “what if’s” that amplify my anxiety in my professional and personal life. I am realizing that it is totally worth facing those uneasy, anxious feelings in order to stretch myself into the counselor, wife, friend, daughter, and sister that I aspire to be. I hope that you come along with me as I share my journey!
Hanna Rodriguez is a counselor in training at McNeese State University, and is completing her internship at the McNeese Kay Dore Gambling Treatment Program in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is interested in viewing mental health from a wellness perspective. Read more about Hanna at http://hannarodriguez1.wix.com/counselorintern