Top 10 Reasons Why I am Becoming a Counselor

Standard

10. Mental health issues are not going away any time soon.

For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, mental health issues continue to plague our society. On a large scale; mass shootings, suicide bombings, and terrorist activity has become a mainstay on our nightly news feeds. On a more personal note; depression, anxiety, and irrational beliefs are just a few mental health issues that significantly effects all of our lives on a daily basis. Every family faces the burden of mental health issues in one way or another.

 

plastic figure standing in front of a hole in a puzzle

 

9.  It’s a natural fit for my skill set.

For as long as I can remember, people have naturally opened up to me. I have often wondered if there was a sign on my forehead that said tell me your darkest secrets. During countless conversations I have heard the same sentence, “I have never told this to anyone before.” I consider it an honor when someone shares the deepest parts of their journey with me. I don’t seek to offer advice or fix their problems, but I attempt to be present with them and offer active listening skills. Surprisingly (or not surprisingly), people really open up when they feel they are being listened to.

 

counseling-testing-lets-talk-logo

 

8.  I have always been intrigued with the dynamics of interpersonal relationships.

Ever since my first encounter with marriage counseling over two decades ago, I have been fascinated by what makes people tick. You could say I have become an existential investigator of this intriguing species known as humans. Our beliefs and worldviews are continuously shaped by the interactions we have with others. Two people that come together for any possible reason will walk away altered as a result of their meeting—no matter how lengthy or short-lived. Every couple weeks I’m reading a new book about life, relationships, meaning, religion, therapy, or any other new thing that interests me. A long time ago I declared myself to be a life-long learner and my natural curiosity has led me to never run out of material.

 

FB_IMG_1445608514033

 

7.  I want to help people feel comfortable with their humanness.

I’ve heard it said many times that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We all find ourselves on this giant rock hurling through the galaxy. Our time on this rock is a measly tip-of-the-needle dot compared to the history of our civilization. Alan Watts once said we are all God playing hide-and-go-seek with himself. If we could all grasp the greatness that resides in each one of us, the world would be a much better place. Being comfortable with your humanness means you accept yourself exactly the way you are; and when you are comfortable with your own humanness, you realize you are more comfortable with others’ as well.

 

love-actually-andrew-lincoln

 

6.  It’s the greatest honor in the world to sit with someone who is wrestling with the big questions of life.

“Why am I here?” “What is this all for?” “What’s the point?” No matter who you are, you eventually start to ask yourself some pretty deep questions. It’s nearly impossible to go through life without searching for some kind of meaning for your existence. Many great philosophers and teachers have given their ideas, but we each have to decide our own version of what is true for us. I am fascinated each and every time I have one of these conversations with another person and I’m honored to wrestle alongside them as they search for their truth.

 

wp-1466887534487.jpg

 

5.  The Religious “Nones” are growing rapidly.

In an ongoing Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center, the Religiously Unaffiliated adults (or “Nones”) in America grew from 36.6 million in 2007 to 55.8 million in 2014. That is an awful lot of people left trying to sort through their missing religious beliefs. Choosing to walk away from previously held beliefs and childhood indoctrination takes a tremendous toll on an individual. Many people were taught what to think, while few were taught how to think. Offering a safe, nonjudgmental place to decipher one’s beliefs is at the top of my priority list.

 

facebook_1444086352825

 

4.  Advocacy for anyone that needs a voice.

All too often, minority groups or people left on the fringes of society are either laughed at or simply ignored. Discrimination, bullying, or flat-out exploitation result in serious personal mental health issues and wreak havoc on our society in general. We all must remind ourselves that just because someone is different than us; that doesn’t make them bad, evil, or wrong. Each and every one of us is unique and marvelous just the way we are. I’m willing to speak up for those that may need help finding their voice.

 

Screenshot_2016-02-19-14-33-05-1

 

3.  Every person is unique and has a story to tell.

As I just mentioned, we are all unique. We all have a past that makes our story unlike anyone else in the world. We have each come so far but we have so far to go. The events in your life that transpired to bring you where you are now has shaped you into the person you’ve become. I’m eager to hear those stories and I’m looking forward to helping as many people celebrate their uniqueness as possible.

 

dd853aa63c96e13d3c6479ed8d28a6ab

 

2.  The time is right.

When I graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s in Family Life Education, I was eager to start a Master’s right away and continue my education. I wrestled with that for a while. Being a divorced dad with two kids meant any time I spent pursuing my education was time not spent with them. I basically had to decide whether to pursue my education or spend as much time with my children as possible. Needless to say, I chose the latter and it’s a decision I will never regret. I’ve had the honor to attend nearly every sporting event they participated in, coached each of them in several sports, and was there for virtually every activity. Being their father has been the greatest gift of my life and if I had to choose between my education or time with them again, I would choose them each and every lifetime!

 

105_0409

 

1.  It’s what I have been called to do.

Many years ago, a wise friend spoke truth into my life. She said, “Ya know, I can really see you counseling, writing, and speaking.” That nonchalant statement worked its way into my soul and has never left. After many years of applying myself and consistently learning and growing, I know this is exactly what I am meant to do with my life. I’m extremely thankful for the life my current job has afforded me and my family, but I will be spending the rest of my working days helping as many people as I possibly can.

 

psychology session sign vector

 

Peace my Friends!

 

~Travis

 

counselingawareness-1-copy

Counseling, Here I Come! 

Standard

Yesterday I participated in an all-day orientation for the Master’s in Counseling program at Spring Arbor University. It was a wonderful time spent with other cohorts from around the state who are all starting the program this week in various locations. We learned what our lives would be consumed with for the next couple years and hopefully the rest of our professional lives as counselors. 

Counseling has long been a taboo subject in our society. Thankfully, as more people realize their mental health issues are real (and very debilitating), the stigma or fear of seeing a counselor continues to decrease. The thought of seeing a counselor to talk about your problems used to be avoided at all cost by a large percentage of the population. Many saw it as a sign of weakness–men especially. Others felt embarrassed since their problems weren’t near as bad as other people’s. They attempted to just suck it up and move on. 

Pressure from friends and family who scoff at you for working through your past keeps you in silence even longer. Comments like “You should just get over it” or “It wasn’t that bad” or “Why don’t you just let God take away your burdens” neglect the fact that something very real is happening inside your mind that needs worked through. 

We all have a history that molds and shapes who we are today. That history is full of victories and triumphs; and at the same time that history is full of pain and heartache, too. 

No matter who you are, your history is a dichotomy of highs and lows. Some days you remember the highs and reminisce about the good ole days. Where did that memory come from and what caused it to surface? 

Other days you remember the lows and you cry, or you eat Chips A’hoy cookies, or go shopping, or pick a fight with your spouse, or drink a lot of alcohol, or check out in front of the television or computer, or do any of a thousand things people do to cope when the pain resurfaces. 

Sometimes the pain comes back and builds a nest in your mind and won’t go away. That nest serves as a daily reminder of heartache for days on end. You wake in the morning to find a couple eggs in the nest. When they hatch they are more memories of your personal history you’ve been dying to forget. Before you realize it, the nest is hatching so many bad memories you can’t cope with them all. 

Where do these bad memories come from and what triggers their arrival? 

There is nothing wrong with seeking help from another person. Counselors are often referred to as wounded healers. Counselors aren’t perfect people with idyllic pasts. They aren’t better than you because you went to them for help. They don’t serve as gatekeepers to wisdom and understanding. Counselors are real people with real problems of their own who simply have a strong desire to help others. 

Becoming a wounded healer brings with it a large dose of humility. 

I am humbled by the fact that so many of you share your lives with me. 

I am humbled each and every time someone says to me, “I have never told that to anyone.” 

I am humbled by the stories I hear and the vulnerability of those who tell them. 

I am humbled by our shared history on the planet we inhabit and the progress we continue to make as a species. 

The more I learn, and the more of your stories I hear, the more I realize we are all alike. As I reflect on my intention as a counselor I noticed it’s much the same as my intention as a writer: My intention is to help people be more comfortable with their humanness. 

As I embark on this journey, I hope to share many of the lessons I am learning along the way. Counseling, here I come! 

Oh, and by the way, if you are working through something difficult, I highly recommend talking to a counselor. 
Peace my Friends! 
~Travis