Getting My Feet Wet

By Sabrina Bong — Several monumental events have occurred in the past few weeks. The Milwaukee Brewers became the National League Central Division champions. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears. And I participated in my first mock counseling session with my practicum class.

You would think that acting out a situation would be relatively easy. If you’re the client, you sit down, explain your problem, and then answer any questions the other might have. Or if you’re the counselor, you ask questions that gently guide your client into gaining insight. As the counselor, you are the model of calm. Of control. Nothing rattles you.

It’s not necessarily that easy. It’s actually a bit nerve-wracking at times.

I think the reason I’m so nervous is because I want to do everything right. In some ways, I believe that counseling is just like advising a friend. However, I think there are a few major differences. To begin with, the repercussions of my actions will be bigger. I’m scared that someday, as a counselor, I’m going to give someone advice that doesn’t work. Also, I’m nervous about the delivery of my advice. It’s one thing to be direct with your friends; it’s another to be blunt with a client.

So during this mock counseling session, I tried really hard to listen well. I tried to give thoughtful advice. But the 15 minutes that we play-acted seemed like an hour. I was really nervous about not having enough to say, or saying something really silly. I was shaking when we started taping my mock counseling scenario. But the session, as scary as it was, was extremely beneficial. We taped all of our sessions and reflected on them, which gave us a lot of data on ourselves.

I, for example, found that I talk a lot more than I probably should. And I got out a lot of first session jitters. I laughed once or twice. I would ask a question, and then come back to it eight questions later. Sometimes I repeated myself, or completely dropped an important point. But despite these stumbles, this first session made me more confident. It was nice to do a counseling session in a relaxed environment without worrying about impressing an actual client. Now is the time for me to make mistakes; when I go out into the real world, I’ll know what to avoid!

I really enjoy my practicum class (to be honest, I enjoy all my classes) because it gives us the opportunity to really delve into what counselors do and how they do it. This semester, we are working on honing our natural counseling skills, as well as acquiring a few new techniques. Next semester, we will be able to shadow a counselor and see what a typical day is for them. Following the end of my practicum experience, I will be able to hold an internship with a school and counsel students.

It’s a little scary, but I have to say that this next step is also exhilarating.

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