Hey counselors! I see you out there in all the corners of our work.
I see you good folks working in crisis centers, hospitals, and mental health clinics, serving those who suffer most acutely the stress of isolation. Your client population—for whom isolation is both the key ingredient in and the tragic result of declining mental health—make “social distance” and preventative measures almost impossible to maintain.
I see all of you in practice, who overnight had to move your entire operation to telehealth. I see and feel the worry you have for the sustainability of your business as you ponder how to pay rent on your office and how to provide the quality of care you expect to provide each and every client. And I see how you beat yourself up when you feel less than effective.
Career counselors, I see you too. Your work in guiding people toward their professional goals was as upended as many professions have been. You’re trying to stay on top of job trends at a time when whole job markets are undergoing layoffs, furloughs, and hiring freezes; and when no one can reasonably predict what will happen to downtown business districts in our great cities. Your work is in building clients toward a long-term plan at a time when the future looks especially uncertain.
Counselor educators and supervisors, I see you because I live your experience. Most or all of your classrooms went online overnight, and you’re still trying to figure out how to ensure student learning in this weird new environment that’s completely foreign to your way of teaching. I also see you supervisors who are working to keep your interns safe all the way to a finish line that’s harder to see than ever. You’ve probably spent many moments this year feeling like an imposter, supervising work in telehealth when you’ve perhaps never done distance counseling yourself.
Students and interns at all levels of education and pre-licensure work, I see you too. You were just getting your feet wet in your counseling work and learning treatment protocols, teaching and supervision methods, or another key learning for your career. Suddenly, the business of counseling and counselor education seemed to change overnight. What is always a rigorous learning experience that requires constant self-examination of your humanness suddenly had to be done at a distance, with no ability to shake hands, touch, or hug people who need support—nor to receive these things from caring friends and colleagues when you need them.
All of these things, each of you did in spite of what was happening in your own life. You kept showing up for people through your own grief, your own limitations, your own stuff that kicked up and that you couldn’t neatly address because of the limitations this virus placed on all of us.
It’s been quite a year for everyone across the globe, and you each showed up as best you could to keep supporting people, encouraging them, and engaging them in therapies that are complex during even the best of times. Thank you for doing what you do for humanity. Counseling matters, and your work is vital. You are vital.
Dr. Stacee Reicherzer is a licensed professional counselor-supervisor originally from San Antonio, TX, but who now resides in Chicago, IL. “Dr. Stacee,” serves as clinical faculty in the Counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University and is the author of The Healing Otherness Handbook: Overcome the Trauma of Identity-based Bullying and Find Power in Your Difference (April, 2021: New Harbinger Publications). Her website is: www.drstacee.com