Using the Good and the Bad
What path did you take to become a counselor?
While completing my undergraduate degree in religious studies at Gardner-Webb University, I heard a psychology professor share her memories of the ministry she provided for battered women as a counselor. God used her story to inform my understanding of His calling, and I pursued both an MA/Eds in counseling, and an MDiv from Gardner-Webb University.
Through connections I gained while in divinity school, God led me to CareNet Counseling’s residency program in spiritually integrated psychotherapy. This residency program helped guide me as I began my career in providing spiritually integrated mental health care.
How have you used your past in your work as a counselor?
The CareNet residency greatly increased my awareness that all of me—the good and the bad—is present in all my therapy sessions. On good days, my past informs my interactions by increasing compassion, increasing empathetic capacity and keeping me grounded in the overarching truth that God is good and loves my clients.
On not-so-good days, I notice that my past experiences resonate more strongly with what my clients are going through. On these days, I realize that I must be more aware of allowing my clients to explore their own inner world and journey. Whether it is a good or not-so-good day, I am thankful that my past and present constantly remind me what it means to be human. While I will ever strive to be a servant such as Jesus, I celebrate following His model and being just as much a human as the clients I nurture.
What do you enjoy most about counseling?
Oddly enough, my favorite moments could at a glance appear polar opposites in nature, but I trust they are of equal value in each person’s journey on Earth. I certainly enjoy celebrating times of victory and freedom with clients. However, sitting with a client who is wrestling with hopelessness is one of the greatest honors I have ever known.
Many people tell me they could not handle the six to eight hours of emotional highs and lows to which I bear witness; however, it is my favorite part. Serving as a witness to the realities of the inner human experience inevitably draws me to the realities of God’s intimate work in each of our lives. We are ridiculously finite, and in some odd way, I celebrate having constant reminders of that fact.
Rebecca Setzer works for CareNet’s Western regional center in Marion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.