People often ask me how I can listen to patient problems all day long. The truth is, I’m not giving much attention to their problem as much as I am listening for their strengths, for their hope, for their opportunities. I have one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. As a professional counselor, I have the honor of helping people find themselves and seek joy in the world around them when they once could only see darkness.
One of the perks of my job that might be surprising to others is how much I learn from my patients. Therapists get a unique backstage pass that allows them to experience authentic human emotions and challenges like no other. If the world could share this insider view of the people around them, it would truly bring us closer together as we would realize just how much we all have in common.
In honor of National Counseling Awareness Month I would like to share with you some of my favorite insights that I have learned from my incredible patients:
1. Human behavior serves a function. We would not do something if it was not working for us on some level. When we struggle to understand our own or other’s behavior it is helpful to take a step back and acknowledge the purpose that is serves.
2. We can relate to one another through emotions. Each of us has a unique story and no one will ever know exactly what it is like to walk in our shoes, but they can relate to the emotions we experience. If my best friend is getting divorced and I have never gone through a divorce, I might not know exactly what that is like, but I can most certainly relate to the potential sadness and loss she is feeling as a result of my own unique experiences.
3. Trauma has purpose. It never ceases to amaze me how good can always present itself through the darkest of trauma. It sometimes takes time to surface, but it does exist.
4. When someone in your life does not step up to the plate in the way that you would expect them to, there is always someone else that comes into your life and is available to play that role. Sometimes you just have to stop looking at the closed door to see someone loving is in the door way right behind you.
5. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. People just need to be heard. It’s the most powerful level of support.
Written by: Kristin Woodling, LMHC