The wellness perspective we take as mental health professionals is holistic in approach. As counselors, we are not just striving to eliminate the symptoms as the medical model does. Instead, we are seeking to help clients strive to be high functioning, healthy, more wholesome people so that their lives may be improved drastically. This sets us apart from other medical professionals because yes, we seek to lower or erase symptoms, however, we are also equipping our clients with the skills and tools necessary to live more wholesome and authentic lives, which is the impact on our clients that we are seeking to have.
This approach applies to counselors as much as it does our clients. As counselors, we are broken human beings. We are flawed. We have our own darkness. If we do not embrace our own darkness and seek to bring what is there to the light for healing then we will do harm as counselors. We must sit in our own humanity and become not only okay with it, but seek to become more wholesome people. This prevents from getting hit by blind spots or causing harm to our clients. Growing personally and studying in graduate school for counseling does two things: 1) It opens you up to your own brokenness and 2) Makes you really aware of other peoples’ brokenness. This can be a blessing and a curse. However, it’s in our weakness and brokenness that we find our true selves.
Learn from it.
Listen to it.
Grow into it.
Heal from it.
The self-care I find important to me as a counselor-in-training is to keep studying and working with my chronic shame issues. I have gone through a spiritual awakening/breakdown the last few months by going down into my darkness and seeking to confront it with the Light of Christ. I am also exploring all the unhealthy emotional schemas I have. As someone going into this profession, I think a big healthy dose of self-awareness and seeking to self-actualize is really required. The dangers in not living out the wellness approach in our own lives are that we cannot sit in the darkness of others with them in order to have compassion and empathy. If we have not done the work ourselves how will we do it with others? This seems antithetical to the profession of counseling.