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  • Writer's picturekellyharveylpc

What scared you the most when you first became a counselor?

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

The potential for harm, either by action or omission.

Over time, I worry less about that…after 27 years, I have a pretty good understanding of my work and pretty solid skills. Now, what scares me are all the things that are out of my control. I can form a solid connection with a client, we can do good work together, and things can still go awry.

Eating disorder patients can be denied care by insurance companies. Anyone can experience sudden loss of a parent, a partner, a child. Anyone can get a sudden, devastating diagnosis…or their beloved can, which can seem worse. Those who struggle with chronic PTSD, or pain, or depression may decide that the scales do not tip in favor of continuing to fight. I have virtually no say in that, much as I might wish otherwise.

Clients are subject to the whims and winds of employers, stalkers, crazy exes, violent or addicted parents or children, socioeconomic pressures, barriers to healthcare, safety, and security. People do horrible things to their children, their partners, and to strangers. I bear witness, but I do not control any of those things.

The things that scared me most as a beginning counselor were internal to me. ‘First, do no harm’.

Today, the things that scare me are external, and thus, require acceptance rather than competence. I cannot control them, nor can I dwell on them or I could not continue to do the work effectively.

Hope is healing.

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