Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lately . . .

Lately I have developed two habits. The first is losing earrings, the second is gaining weight. Neither of these are particularly good habits, in fact I would say that they are both bad habits.

First the earrings. It started on Sunday. I opened my travel bag to pull out my brown beaded earrings, but only one was there, I assumed its' mate must be at home and knowing I had another pair with me I simply wore those. These are a pair of earrings that I love. They are special earrings, a gift. And all of a sudden one was gone. I looked all over the house but there was a party going on and a lot of people, and it isn't my small house, so it is a big house with a lot of rooms. But the main problem, there is a slight risk that the earring fell off outside. Outside in the forest. Granted it is a small forest but there are trees and there are plants and there is a lot of dirt (mud actually). On account of the rain I had put a hat on everytime I went outside and when I came inside I took the hat off. And hats are tricky with loose earrings, they like to liberate earrings from ears when you take them off by taking the earrings with them and tossing them around the room where no human will ever find them again. 
Now, the hat is was led me to believe that my earring was inside, but we (myself, an almost-10-year-old girl  and a rather nice teenage boy - compared to the less nice teenage boy who did not help me) searched and searched to no avail. Then yesterday I had to find a different pair of earrings to match the same necklace I was wearing on Sunday and I chose a lovely pair that I rarely wear. But last night when I went to take them off, there was only 1. And not even in the same ear, so it is not the ear that is faulty. 

Second, the weight gain. I was doing well. I was exercising and I was eating better. And then my family visited and we ate fabulous foods - frequently and in great quantity. And I enjoyed it. Unfortunately when they left, I kept enjoying it. And then I hurt my arm and decided that no good exercises can be done with an injured arm because most exercises involve movement and movement causes my arm to hurt. And the only reasonable low-pain exercise I could think to do would be riding my stationary-bike, but alas it still only has 1 pedal. Which, I have to say, makes it an unpleasurable experience and so I use it to put sweaters on when I come home. Ironically, I believe this is what many people choose to do with stationary-bikes, the handles are just so useful. But then a sad reality happened. I bought these cute slacks just a few weeks ago for something (there was an amazing sale at The Softer Side of Sears and these gorgeous slacks were like $4!!). The other day I went to put them on, and, GASP, they were too small. How? Oh no! How???? Then last night I ate dinner and my stomach ended up not having enough room for the amount of food I consumed. And it wasn't like I was a little old man who wanted to unbutton his trousers, it was pressing on my lungs. The year I gained 20 pounds (which is a lot to gain in one year) that used to happen. And then today I ate left overs, not a GREAT amount, but it happened again. I couldn't even drink coffee! No room! But was I full? Only for a brief moment. I have been ravenously hungry CONSTANTLY. Hungry hungry hungry like a little purple snapping hippo. 

This is a problem. This cannot continue. Something. Has. To. Change. I need all of my earrings to stay in my ears and no more weight to be added to my body. In fact I would like to gain earrings and lose weight. Why is it not that easy? 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It was a good run

I got to feel "normal" for 2 months. It isn't like I feel terrible abnormal. But more like the me pre-normal state.

I'm sure it'll be back. I liked it a lot and I will find the motivation to return. But since about 3:00 yesterday it slid back in. 

It was a good run. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Getting the Imprint

An argument was raised in class last month: is a therapist born or made? The fundamental components were broken into 2 categories: empathy and skills. 

I do not believe that empathy can be taught, it can be developed but you have to have "it" - it is innate. So empathy either is or it isn't. Skills, for the most part, can be taught.  But you need some sort of a natural framework. Like you come with the basic internal foundation from which skills can be learned. 

Now then, can a therapist be made? Sort of. If one has empathy and the ability to hone the skills, then yeah, you can. If they don't have empathy? I think it is a disservice to clients. I believe that being a counselor is a vocation - in the sense that it is a calling. That is why I think that the born argument is significant for counselors. 

So where do I fall into this? I have always believed that I am meant to be a helper, particularly with youth. A therapist? I don't know. A counselor of some sort? Yes. Lately I have been convinced that while I think I came pre-made in the empathy department - I was seriously concerned about my skills. Can I do this? Nothing in my role plays really says I can. And I began to believe that I am trying to make myself into a therapist. It made me sad. How could I have been such a fool? 

Then in a conversation I had on Wednesday it was brought to my attention that I am basing this on very false situations. Role plays in a class are not the same as real life counseling. When have I been the happiest? In working with youth and often as some form of a counselor or mentor. There is nothing that has made me happier career wise. Even when I worked in the crisis center and it was violent or messy in many ways I came back because I believed that I could connect with those kids and that being there with them was such a privilege that I needed to do it and that I was good at it. And I loved it - well, a lot of it. Talks with kids there stand out as some of the most meaningful moments in my life. 

Then today, the final day of our Advanced Family Therapy class, I was doing my final role play and it clicked. I definitely missed a lot and when my professor came in she showed some profound areas in which I was lacking (she did not point them out, she role played for us and I saw them) but for a little bit there I felt natural. I felt okay in my own skin. Even as I fumbled through some techniques. I felt like I had skills!! 

At the close of class my professor said that she hoped we knew that these role plays are not really examples of how we are as therapists - and that this is why she cannot grade us on them (an opinion not shared by other professors apparently). She also said that this is a time for being befuddled. While you are in a role play it is when you are getting the imprint. The imprint of a model or a theory or of some of the process. Learning how to mirror what you hear. 

So, am I a therapist? Or a counselor? I still don't know. To be a good therapist, you have to be a counselor. But you can counsel in different ways. Career wise, to be a counselor is a different job where you aren't really doing therapy. 

On that note, I need to decide what I am doing soon. I go back and forth on switching my programs still from school counseling to MFT. Much has to do with the job market, much has to do with my family therapy class. It is the class I have found hope in.

It is also where I found some sadness because every MFT student that I have come to know even in the slightest way is going onto internship next year. No more classes with them. It makes me really sad. In large part because I am supposed to be with them. And if I were there would be no crisis. If I had already been in all of the classes there is no way I would have even considered switching programs. 

I apparently beg existential crises to come my way. Well, whether or not that is true what is learned today is that there is hope for me. I needed that hope. 

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel