The Good, the Bad, the Counselor

By Sabrina Bong — I was reminiscing on my freshman year of undergraduate this past week with a friend, and we eventually began talking about one of our elective classes.

It had been a seminar on Joss Whedon, the man who created Serenity, Firefly, and the popular shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. During that seminar, we would watch these shows and movies and philosophize about good versus evil. I remember the professor would ask us what made a person “good” or “evil”: was it their choices? Their intentions? The outcomes of their decisions?

Last Friday, I attended the Diversity Gala, which is an event put on by the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department. It was a great opportunity to hang out with my classmates and talk to my professors outside of the classroom setting. Everyone dressed up, and it felt like a sophisticated version of Prom. My favorite part, however, was listening to the guest speaker, Gary Hollander.

Mr. Hollander began his speech by assuring us that we were all essentially good, no matter what we did. He said that it was easy sometimes to forget this point. As counselors, we strive to be knowledgeable and aware of our biases. We try to use inclusive language. We try not to stereotype. But occasionally, it happens. We’re human. We make mistakes. But we shouldn’t dwell on these mistakes or minor slips. Instead, we should remember that no matter what, we are good people. The fact that we are trying to become more conscious of these things makes us good people.

It was a powerful message. I know that there have been times I have said or done something silly during a counseling session, which has left me feeling like I was a horrible counselor. Sometimes, when we tape ourselves role playing, I am embarrassed by the fact that I am not quite as comfortable with some counseling skills. Does this reflect poorly on me? Is it a preview of what is to come? Hearing that no matter what happens, the fact that I am still a good person alleviated some of my fears.

I think this is something we need to remember about our clients too, especially the ones that we may not see eye to eye with. No matter what they say or feel, they are still essentially good people. We cannot judge. We cannot make assumptions. Doing this will only negatively affect the rapport of the counselor-client relationship.

I think we sometimes lose sight of us being good people, whether we are counselors or clients. We get so caught up in the moment and the emotions tied to it that we occasionally forget to remind ourselves that we are more than just one moment, one snapshot in time. We need to remember that we are like videos, constantly moving and changing.

So whether you are procrastinating by socializing on Facebook, eating just one more cookie, or just asked a question that you may regret, just remember: at the end of the day, you are still good!

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