The Responsibilities of Counseling

By Sabrina Bong — When I was younger, I dreaded the word “responsibility.”

Maybe it’s because that I always heard about it in a negative context: It was my “responsibility” to do my homework, clean my room, eat my vegetables, and clear the table after dinner. And as I moved on to high school, the importance of responsibility increased tenfold. Suddenly, responsibility was more than just eating my vegetables. It was applying to colleges, scholarships, financial aid, and taking rigorous college-prep classes to ensure that I was ready for the next chapter of my life.

Needless to say, by the time I graduated high school, I was more afraid of responsibility than anything else. And the quote from Spiderman – “With great power comes great responsibility” – really didn’t help matters. It only made me nervous about taking on leadership roles, since I would then have even more responsibility piled on me.

I’m not exactly sure when the turning point came, but sometime between college and graduate school, I stopped shivering at the word “responsibility.” Maybe it’s because I heard it so often, or maybe it’s because I realized that responsibility isn’t always a scary thing. In fact, responsibility sometimes made things easier. Taking the reins and leading a group project – being responsible for your group members and the portion of work you were assigned to – is a lot easier than having everyone work on the exact same section.

And now that I’m in my second (yes, second! And final!) year of graduate school, I welcome responsibility with open arms.

I hear about responsibility a lot in my daily conversations: in school, at internship, and at home. As counselors, we have an ethical responsibility to our students to keep them safe. We have responsibilities to ourselves to make sure that we are healthy and well-rested. We have responsibilities to the schools we work at to ensure that we are helping the counseling department and learning everything we can. We have responsibilities to parents to make sure they know what is going on in their students’ lives.

During the past few days of my internship, I have realized that my supervisor views me as a responsible, dependable person, which is evidenced by the faith he is showing in me as a future counselor. Already, I have been talking individually with students, helping with scheduling, and volunteering to help teach a few classroom lessons. I am no longer just observing; now, I’m actually doing. It is fantastic learning all of these new things and knowing that my supervisor trusts me enough to let me do these things on my own.

In short, he expects more out of me. As do my parents. And my teachers. And, to be honest, I expect more out of myself. Now that I’m entering this final year, I know that if I push myself, I can be the best school counselor I can be. I have to embrace the power and the responsibility that comes with it. It’s the only way I can grow and change and really become an excellent counselor.

Responsibility? Bring it on.

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