I graduated with my Masters in Counseling in 2009 and recently have been considering all that has happened professionally over the last 10 years. I remember one of my first clients during my practicum (about a year into my graduate program) and as he poured out his life story, thinking that I was in WAY over my head. There was a moment in one of our first sessions together, when he shared his childhood abuse for the first time in his life. I was wondering what class I was supposed to have, but hadn’t had yet, so I could know what to do. In a loss of words I just nodded and listened, which in hindsight, was the most powerful thing I could have done – and a significant lesson. In someways that is the most important aspect of counseling, listening well and being patient.
When I was counseling the homeless in Fort Worth I didn’t always have time to patient because so many of my clients I might only see once or twice. Sometimes things went well enough that they would greet me across the shelter and introduce me as ‘their counselor’ to all their buddies. Other times they would find out I didn’t have food, clothes or shelter and leave in a storm of curse words. I learned that each opportunity to interact, even if it was the only time, could be positive and impactful.
In 2011, I began looking into counseling cross cultural workers joining an organization that provided an avenue to do that. I spent a year working in the states and then five years in Kenya. Now I am based and working out of the MENA region (Middle East / North Africa). Since 2011, I have counseled people from at least 28 different countries. For many people it was the first time they experienced counseling and sometimes my first time counseling someone from their home country. Often our differences far outweighed our similarities. I learned that listening is ‘spoken’ the same across cultures. Healing comes in many different ways, times and places. I have the privilege of being a part of my healing stories.
I write this from Jordan, one of my many stops with Healing the Wounds of Trauma. This week is about training adults in how to work with children who have experienced trauma. It is sometimes seeing the suffering at its worst but getting the joy of helping others be a part of the healing process. The children learn what to do with their pain and the adults guiding them often learn more about healing than the children. I continue to learn that anyone, regardless of background, can both be a part of a therapeutic process and find healing through one.