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And Another One's Gone ...


malign

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I was surprised the last time I found I hadn't posted here in a year.  Now it has happened again.

I think part of the reason I turned away from the site is that I turned away from myself, a little.  Not consciously, but perhaps I was trying to turn towards whatever the counseling profession was or is, or what I thought it was.  It's four years later, and I still haven't finished.  I put off the practicum last Fall, and though I took it this Spring, I received a "Does not meet expectations" result, which means I have to retake it in order to move forward.  After I retake the practicum, I would have to find and complete an internship somewhere.  To the extent that I need a defense, more than half of the semester was spent under a stay-at-home order, and so involved both distance learning and distance counseling.  But it's also true that I never managed to relax into just being in session with someone.  What remains unclear is whether I will be able to, in the future.

I am definitely considering dropping out.  I'm obviously resisting the program;  whether from personal anxiety or from some nobler dislike for jumping through hoops, I don't know.  On the other hand, there's a sizable amount in student loans and four years of my life that would have little to show for it.  Still, finances might be better if I went back to computers.

Speaking of finances, though, my "day job" of working for a local big-box grocery-and-everything-else store has unexpectedly made me essential in some way that no one would have said I was, before.  So, I go to work, full time, with a two-dollar-an-hour raise and a mask on my face, and get thanked by people for doing it.  Still, I worry more about people who can't go to work, or who will have to decide between risking their lives and earning a living, soon.  Amusingly, we're finding that not everyone can work from home, and even better, that the ones who can't may well be more important in keeping our society running.  And don't get me started on how vulnerable this makes us, being dependent on internet connectivity for everything, now.

I find myself increasingly discouraged by the evidence that our political system, and for that matter, our reasons for being as a society, are breaking down.  Suspicion is not only normal;  it's openly expressed at every level of society against every other level.  People seem to have stopped admitting even the possibility that other people might have good intentions.  A famous dead man said that a house divided against itself cannot stand;  he presided over the last civil war.

So, back to me, and figuring out which way to turn.  Strangely, as I tried to focus on learning how to counsel people, I felt less and less able to keep contact with people I was already involved with.  It felt like I needed those resources to work on myself, during a process that undoubtedly induces changes in anyone who goes through it.  But I can see now that I lost by doing that;  that as I pulled back from the rest of my life, ostensibly to improve it, I made it colder and darker, for myself and for those I abandoned.

I thought I had to turn inward (even more than I naturally am), but the truth is that the reasons for living aren't in there.  They're in the people out there, who need help.  So, I may have to get through some more hoops, but if I do try to, I won't be focused on the hoops as much, any more.

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Well, the licensing varies somewhat by state ...  Here in Michigan, LPC (licensed psychological counselor) is for PhD's and LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) is for those with a master's in Social Work.  Other master's level counselors (my program is technically a master's in Counseling Psychology), get an LLPC (limited LPC), which means we have to be supervised by an LPC wherever we work.  Which restricts us somewhat to agencies, or private practices willing to provide supervision internally.  It's a pain, but then, so is getting a PhD.

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Hi, Mark, good to 'hear' from you, as always! :)

I'm sorry I haven't noticed your new blog post sooner! (How did that happen?!)

I wonder that... perhaps you needed to 'abandon' those people and to try to focus on yourself for some time to be able to find out what is better for you. Now you can compare and choose. Does it seem too hard now to 'come back' / to make more place in your life for them again? I somehow don't believe they wouldn't like to welcome you back (have you tried...?).

I see that you doubt yourself as a counsellor. You didn't mention why exactly, nor if you seem to know why you might be resisting this studies and / or profession. I'm sure you've been thinking about it a lot, it's just too complicated (and, perhaps, personal) for a blog post or comment. I wonder if you still feel, to some extent, the initial motivation for this change of career. 

Is it clear what that "Does not meet expectations" meant precisely? (I hope you haven't been interpreting it too broadly, as if it was describing you.)

"But it's also true that I never managed to relax into just being in session with someone. What remains unclear is whether I will be able to, in the future." Does this mean the sessions make you nervous? Isn't it a part of the curriculum to learn that it's OK to feel nervous in the beginning of one's practice, even later, in the beginning of each new therapy / counselling? Also, the fact that it's part of the training must bring a lot more 'self-awareness', 'self-observation', 'self-evaluation' etc. that makes it even impossible to fully focus on the session in progress. That's at least how I imagine it.

Good luck in everything and take care!! :)

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As I mentioned before I work in Behavioral Health in a non-clinical capacity and one thing I learned is that federal Medicare will not reimburse a Licensed Professional Counselor.  I think that is in error but not much I can do. Every time I was to refer a Medicare member to an IOP program I can’t do it if it’s run by LPCs which most are in my experience. 
Scroll down to the “Things to know” section:

https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/mental-health-care-outpatient
 

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LaLa, I'll probably get to some of your points in later blog posts, but ...

I'm not trying to make myself feel bad about withdrawing from people to focus on myself.  I don't know if I "needed" to, but I guess I thought I needed to, because I did.  All I'm saying is that, having tried it, it seemed like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  It left me with just an empty washtub.  🙂  And, I'm hoping to be able to come back, because that's what I'm doing.

"Does not meet expectations" is my cumulative grade for this course, which is pass/fail;  the alternative is "Meets expectations", which means passing.  We were all given an evaluation form with a lot of categories and subcategories on which we were rated.  The grade is sort of a weighted average of performance on each ... task?  I'm not really interpreting the phrase as applying to all of me, though it is discouraging.

Sessions definitely make me nervous!  (Jeff Sessions does too, but that's another story.)  I've always been an anxious person, especially socially.  Here I am being evaluated at a skill you don't really get to practice much beforehand.  All the coursework gives you a grounding in a lot of the why's, but not much of the how's.  It seems that they feel that the actual counseling is something you have to learn by trial and error.  Which is my least favorite way to learn something.  It makes sense that it's not something you can learn from books, but ...

I also didn't feel very well supported in the feedback that was available.  You are assigned a "supervisor", who is a more experienced counselor, to go over your sessions with.  In our case, the supervisor was also a student, though a doctoral level student, who was herself receiving supervision from the professor.  I have no independent viewpoint to evaluate her performance, but ... let's just say that my feeling that it was an inquisition was not relieved by our discussions, and I doubt that that resulted in an optimal learning experience for me.

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to focus on the client's words in the session, while being able to observe oneself and the client with enough consciousness to move the session in a therapeutic direction.  I remained unable to reach that observer level, by the end of the semester.  Of course, no one expects us to be fully competent after such a short time, but that's where the "expectations" come in.  I didn't even reach those.

More elsewhere.

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