My family attended a counseling session today. For privacy purposes, I won't go into which one of us is the main client, but I do think it's okay to share that we utilize counseling services because I believe there should be no stigma in doing so. I will say that we are dealing with an ongoing issue that does not involve anything violent or abusive or potentially damaging to our family relationship. In fact, I think it's a sign that we're a strong family when we work together on problems, and know when to seek outside help when we don't know what to do on our own.
Whew! Now that the disclaimer is presented, I want to write about three things I walked away with from today's session. I'll be interested to see if any of it resonates with my readers, especially those who have also received counseling services--and of those, if any were teachers who have experienced the second topic. Here goes:
1) Counseling is exhausting, mentally and physically. I find this interesting, because as I previously stated, we are not working on horribly traumatic, gut-wrenching issues. We simply have a problem and are trying to get to the root of the cause and fix it. Discussing family dynamics and the issue at hand for an entire hour, without distraction, had me so worn out that I took a two hour nap this afternoon! Or maybe, on second thought, it's the exercise of truly listening during that time that involves so much effort and concentration. As a teacher, I tend to do more talking than listening (I'm working on that!). This brings me to the next topic--
2) I was told today that I know too much. And I totally got what the counselor said. I'm a trained educator and a trained parent (you don't have kids with amazing birth stories without being a trained parent!). I've provided special education services, and been on the receiving end as a parent. I parented and worked in a neonatal unit. I've sat in on at least a thousand special education meetings for students--most of which involved behavior and disciplinary issues, written functional behavior assessments and behavior management plans, been trained in and facilitated play therapy as a parent. My current paying job is back in the elementary special education setting. I get to talk with licensed school psychologists and counselors on a daily basis. It's tough to separate what you know and practice at work, from what you do and say as a family member. In some ways that's good; I feel like I may have a bigger "toolbox" to utilize when problems arise. In some ways it's not so good, because I come across as a know-it-all, even though I feel like I'm constantly saying that I don't know everything.
Basically, I need to learn that even if I think I know what will work in a given situation... sometimes I just need to shut up, listen, and let someone else step in, step up, figure it out, take over...I need to let go.
3) I love my family. I love that we trust each other to deal with problems head on, in open discussion, from a supportive stance. As I looked around the counselor's office today, I had to smile. We've created a wonderful family, and it just keeps getting better. My heart is swelling with joy and pride as we take this journey together.