26 June 2007

Only Human

I had an interesting conversation today, a potential client commenting on how she enjoyed reading my blog because it indicated that I'm human and that I'm willing to show it, even though I'm supposed to be the expert human, a "therapist."

Therapists are incredibly human, especially good ones. Because to be a good counselor, you have to be very interested in what it is to be human, and enjoy being with other humans. It is that interest and attentiveness that makes counseling work, not a kind of expertise or perfection of qualities.

That can be a trap for people working in mental health, because it seems like you are supposed to be an expert, to know exactly what's going with the person or couple sitting across from you.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama once said something to the effect that when he meets a person, he always tries to recognize that they are a fellow traveler, someone who is suffering and seeking happiness, just as he is. When he sees a person in this way, they immediately feel like an old friend.

This is the art that the counselor can offer, that witnessing of humanness, a willingness to be by your side in frightening places, a philosophy of kindness and compassion. In this space, the true light within each one of us can begin to shine and light the way.
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