I have had the awesome privilege spending half of my life working to help adults, young people and families. No doubt this has given me a unique perspective of the human mind and heart. I have also been witness to the immense amount of love that deeply binds family members together, but also, that same love which makes us psychologically and emotionally vulnerable to one another. I know this special love that family members uniquely share with one another must seem obvious, however from the outside looking in for many professionals it can be taken for granted. In other words, family members loving one another is normal! In saying that, I never wanted to fall into the trap that it was JUST normal. No I believe it is vital to be able to see, feel and connect with the love that these family members share with one another, due to my belief that this love is the doorway to support families in their quest for healing.
In the same way, when working with or treating a young person or a family I never want to fall into the trap of seeing the young person or any client as JUST a patient. It’s essential to not get stuck into the mindset that the people we work with all have mental illnesses or to see them as a a diagnosis. We must always remember that we are working, helping and supporting another human being, another whole and complete person. We must always keep in mind that first and foremost we are working with a whole person that just so happens to be struggling with mental health issues, or perhaps we are working with and supporting a family that is experiencing a certain amount of dysfunction. Maybe the person we are helping need’s support in dealing with the stressors of everyday life.
At the same time, we, as professional counselors need to keep in our minds and hearts that we are not just clinicians treating a patient,we must remember that we are first and foremost human beings as well. Seeing ourselves this way is vital in order to truly connect and build a relationship with our client which expresses our own humanity. I believe that we must feel confident, comfortable and have a deep sense of humility which allows us the ability to live in our own skin. This enables us to not only have healthy boundaries which are necessary in supporting our client, but also the ability to be vulnerable. At times self disclosure facilitates serving and supporting our client in a greater manner.
Through our own conscious and active participation in healing our own minds and hearts, gives us the ability to be in attunement with our clients. Obtaining an education in psychology and all the training on earth may help us use fancy clinical terms, and learn how to listen to another, but it is not the same as being in attunement with our clients. Cultivating and having the ability to truly feel another person’s pain is needed in the moment which forms a healthy and powerful connection. Aside from strength, love and compassion, being in attunement with our client is one of the healing necessities of the client clinician relationship.