Beginning Counselor, Therapist Journal

Why I Chose To Counsel

A couple of months ago I found myself feeling unsure of where I was in becoming a mental health counselor and why I chose to enter a graduate program in counseling. I began to reflect on what was happening in my life and what has happened in my life which led me to the following story:
I chose to pursue degrees in psychology and counseling because i’m interested in human behavior. Since I was a twelve and introduced to how different my experience can be in comparison to others. I have found that human behavior and helping others through that understanding is what I truly enjoy. I would’ve never been able to come to that conclusion if I had not attended Mohawk Valley Lutheran Confirmation Camp (MVLCC) in 2005 when the theme was “Pray!”.

While at Vanderkamp Christian Retreat Center and Summer Camp (Vanderkamp) for that week I experienced what it was like to interact with people from all over the Foothills Conference (FC) and Central Crossroads Conference (CCC) of the Upstate New York Synod (UNYS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Though I didn’t realize it at the time was introduced to my love of interacting and learning from other people. I left that week of camp excited and full of energy to continue growing my social network. I was able to keep in contact with my friend Nicole and later on get involved with the UNYS Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) CONVO event.

As I participated in these youth events and went to Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center (LCLC) I grew in my understanding of just how large New York State and the United States is. That’s a lot of people to talk and try to understand. My attention was on helping my friends, family, and acquaintances inside the UNYS whether at my home church, CONVO, or working at Vanderkamp grow and come to a better understanding of themselves so that they can have a happy life.

I started to attend Alfred University in 2009 after high school and became immersed in helping people as an Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT-B), the Peer Review Board, and other student organizations that I found interesting and could learn more about others from. This past May of 2013 I graduated from Alfred University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with Music and Theatre minors. What did this mean for me? What was I going to end up doing for the summer?

Of course go back to Vanderkamp for my sixth summer of serving in some capacity as summer camp staff. I happened to go for the position of Summer Program Director for this summer. During that experience I learned that I truly enjoy working at camp and helping younger individuals develop into their future selves. I noticed however that not having the one on one interaction that I once did as a camp counselor shook my foundation of what I thought camp was.

Why write this whole long explanation? Because I’ve realized that in order to complete my degree I need to act like a professional and take on a professional role. As much as I have always taken my work seriously and have wanted to do my best my personality and my work is being put to the test through this graduate program. Such heavy self-criticism and criticism from faculty is something that I am not used to from my undergraduate studies or any place that I have worked.

This is was all sparked by reading “Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship” by Garry Landreth” for a Principles in Counseling course. While reading the principles and foundations of play therapy that Landreth described I started to remember why I chose to go into counseling. The people. The individuals that I will be able to work with and help after getting the credential. Now I just need to meet or surpass the standards set by the counseling profession and my professors to get to that point.

Now a few months after writing this explanation of why I chose to counsel I have realized that I am a developer. I work to help other grow and support them in their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. My counseling style is affected by this experience and I need to keep that in mind as I continue to work towards my counseling degree.


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