Why I'm Becoming a Therapist (pt. 1)

Monday, August 19, 2013

As you may have heard by now, I'm heading back to school!  It's been a loooong time since I've been in the classroom.  Okay (ahem) almost 8 years.  It's still hard for me to believe that I'm in graduate school since only a decade ago I wasn't even ever sure I would (or could) get my Bachelor's degree, let alone a Masters.

I haven't always liked school, but I've always loved the "idea" of school.  Needless to say, I was as shocked as anyone when I genuinely started entertaining the thought of going back.  I'll be the first to admit that I attained my Bachelor's in English by the skin of my teeth.  (I truly flirted my way through Spanish III so that I fulfilled the language requirement.  Otherwise, I'd still be 3 credits and many un-conjugated-Spanish-words away from holding a degree in my hands.  Whew!)

But, the beautiful thing about graduate school (and one of the things I'm most looking forward to) is that everyone really wants to be there.  Every student there has worked hard and specifically applied to get to this time and place, and everyone is interested in the same subject matter.  Yay!  I can't wait to be meeting my fellow psychopaths (though I may withhold that particular nickname until a few weeks into school).

I'm going to get my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy.  Yes, I will be a licensed therapist when all is said and done (that is, after many many many more hours of accumulating licensing hours even after I have my degree in hand).  So, this is a genuine commitment, and I'm in it for the long haul.

Why in the world would I want to be a therapist? 

Well, first of all, my primary reason is that I'm called to it.  No, I don't think I have what it takes to "fix others"...but, I do believe that Jesus does.  And I believe that a whole host of a never-ending education (in and outside of the classroom) will help me be able to relate this to anyone who God may place in my path.

I always thought about becoming a therapist "later on" when my kids were in school and I had life more figured out and it was "convenient" etc. etc. etc.  You get the picture.  Then, as we began talking about moving to Nashville last fall, I started to have some conversations with people I deeply respect who literally just pegged the question at me (many times, out of the blue, within about a week's time) Have you ever thought about becoming a therapist?

I actually had.  Many times.  But, I kept sweeping the idea out of the way simply because it didn't "fit"into my lifestyle at the moment. Still, when that many people pose the same question to you, it kind of makes you stop and wonder.  So, I did.  I wondered.  Then I googled.  And soon enough I found myself showing my husband websites of universities in Tennessee that offered programs that fit both our schedules and our dreams.  It was weird.  It was surprising.  It was everything I'd been waiting on.

Okay, okay (I can hear you saying) but why a therapist?  

Here's the thing about therapy.  Think about having coffee with your best friend.  They understand you, they want to be around you, they like to listen to you.  Now, imagine telling that friend anything or everything you may be feeling or worried about, or just excited about, or really anything.

You completely trust your friend...but, if you are being honest with yourself, your friend has deep opinions about your life and others around you.  Of course they do - they should - that's what friends are for.

Now, replace that best friend with an unfamiliar, yet kind face.  Someone who is approachable, will pray for and over you, and someone who you trust completely within moments of meeting them.  This person listens to you, they validate you, they are concerned with the reality of truth and your perception of it rather than how things may just appear.

They have no judgment, they are only here to help.  And, just when you feel like you are getting a little bored, they pose a perfect question or scenario to make you reconsider a new angle of looking at your life that you would not have considered otherwise.  They are the objective and safe voice that respects and considers who you are and why.

That's what a therapist has done for me in the past.  That's what a good therapist does.  (And so much more - and yet even more that I have yet to learn!)

If the idea of a therapist is uncomfortable for you - I'm going to guess that you probably have never been to a therapist before, or you've been to a really bad one.  I can say this, because I've been there, and I've been to both, and I can understand your hesitation.

Unfortunately, as in any occupation, there are some terrible, ill-equipped people doing this job.  Sure.  It happens.  Just like there are awful lawyers out there.  Just like there are smarmy mechanics.  Just like there are jaded teachers or bitter pastors.  And, if you've gone to a terrible counselor (or even know someone who has) and felt like they were master-mind manipulators out to get paid exorbitant amounts of money just to ask "How does that make you feel?" then you probably have very little respect for the occupation.

BUT - this is where I come in and give you a hug and ask you to take a second look.  I'm sorry if that's happened to you.  That was not cool.  And on behalf of what will soon be "my people" (haha) I cringe at the idea of anyone mis-using or abusing the teachings of psychology and communication to mis-lead or manipulate in any way.  That's not what a counselor should be.  And that's definitely not what Christian counseling is all about.

I'm becoming a therapist because I believe the greatest Counselor of ALL TIME was Jesus Christ.  My gifts and interests culminate at a point where I want to understand others and help them identify with Jesus and seek Him for their healing as they grow to understand how their lives (every aspect of it) can be a resourceful tool for His glory.

Jesus didn't just come down to earth, die, and leave.  He came and related to others.  He listened, He felt, He taught, and He equipped.  He granted us numerous tools (love, respect, and encouragement, just to name a few) to share among others - all of which reflect HIS characteristics.  I can only hope I can be that kind of counselor in the future to someone else.

It probably goes without saying, but another huge reason for my getting my Masters in this, is simply to enrich my writing.  As you know, I love to write about marriage and family - what it means, the honest struggles it includes, and the journey I'm taking in learning through it all.  I can't think of a better education to receive for what I know and love than to dig deeper and acquire the academic credential my heart is already on fire for.  Basically, I want the knowledge to match the passion...so, I'm getting it.

Stay tuned...tomorrow, I'm continuing this topic.  I have another HUGE reason I'm becoming a therapist that just might surprise you.

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