June 24th (“The only thing we have to fear…”)

I was terrified of becoming a counselor.

Which is ironic, since that’s the graduate degree I’ve pursued since 2010.

But when my pre-practicum counseling course came, I had to face my fear of the counselor’s chair.

ImageWell, sure, it was a “pretend” counselor’s chair. The role plays that we did in class weren’t with actual clients yet. But I did have to sit there, with professor and classmates looking on, and try my best to be a counselor.

I was scared my best wasn’t good enough.

I made it through the introductory lectures fine, but when the night for role play came, I was curled up in my bed, in the dark, escaping through tearful sleep. I finally withdrew from the class.

I signed up for the same pre-practicum course again this summer.

I fought hard. I saw a counselor myself and worked through fears of criticism. I examined my irrational expectations of perfection. I practiced short role plays with my counselor (boy, was that a switch). And when I was afraid, my counselor asked me to remember why I wanted to do this.

I want to help people.

Mentally, I prepared and prepared. I could do this. I would not be perfect, but my little “failures” would grow and strengthen me as a counselor. I would learn. It was part of it. I would embrace it.

I wanted to be a counselor.

On June 24th, I made it through my first role play.

I still have more role plays to come. I still have my first session as a counselor with an actual client. Do I have a few lingering fears? A few tingling nerves? Yes. But come on. I want to get to that other side.

People have “role plays” to face. Maybe I can help some of them find their June 24th.

What “role play” do you face? When will your June 24th be?

Mental Health Care = Priceless?

So I have a friend who is looking into seeing a counselor. Nothing is “majorly” wrong, he just (like most of us) has some things to work through. As someone who has seen many counselors, I know how much it has benefited my life and helped me become a healthier, stronger person. So my friend was given a recommendation of a great Christian counselor to see. As he looked into it, each session would cost $110. Insurance wouldn’t help pay for any of that until he had spent over $800. His options? To look elsewhere and see what he can afford.

I went to buy one of four prescription medicines I take. My employer had just changed my insurance, so before I handed them my new card, I saw that one of month’s worth of the generic prescription medicine I was about to buy was over $125. I am incredibly blessed that insurance helps cover it, because otherwise I’m not sure I could afford to be on one, much less the four medicines I take.

As I sat in the drive-through waiting to get my medicine, I was struck by the sadness of what mental health care costs. I know of people who deal with incredibly difficult issues, who really need physical and mental care…except they can’t afford it. So what’s worse than being depressed, bi-polar, or just working through hard times? The added stress and frustration of not being able to get the help you need to make it through.

In my counseling class last Monday, my professor talked about the privilege we have of walking with people in their pain. That’s what counselors get to do. That’s what I want to do. It makes me sad that we have to put a price tag on that process.

I don’t know what I’ll be like as a counselor, or even how/where I’ll be using those counseling skills. But I do know, if possible, I want to make it affordable. Yes, I know that medicines and professional care can/has to/should cost a little. But I hope that even if we aren’t professionals, we are willing to reach out to people who are going through hard times. Because no one should have to pay for someone to walk with them through their pain.