Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Tale Of Two Students

There is one very important lesson that counseling has taught me, and that lesson is, "If you truly want to help someone progress, you must meet them where they are at." This lesson was never so blatantly illustrated than when I had my first real test as a high school counselor. Here is how it went down:

I came into school one morning and I was greeted by two female students sitting in the Guidance Office crying uncontrollably. It was past your ordinary water works. These two girls looked as if their souls were in pain. I was very nervous and extremely concerned. They both wanted to speak with me. They both seemed equally upset so I grabbed the nearest one to me and we went in my office. Once we sat down the girl informed me that she was 15 and raising her two little brothers and an 11 month old nephew, alone. Her mother and sister were deep in their addiction to cocaine and she has been left alone to run their house. She told me that she hadn't seen either of them in over a month. She was overwhelmed with guilt that by telling me this, she was going to split her family up and turn her mother and sister against her. She was also angry because she knew this wasn't fair for her to sacrifice her childhood and high school experience. It was very tense, emotional, and relieving at the same time. I commended her bravery and focus, and assured her that she was doing the right thing by talking about it. I didn't want to feel like she was just tossing her family away so I told her that she could sit and stay in my office while I made the calls to get her brother and nephew taken care of. Once she saw the progress and direction that her home situation was going in, she gave me a hug, cried a little more ,and returned to class.

I walked out of the office and was reminded of the other student who was still sitting and waiting to talk. She was now sobbing even harder than before. Even though the last student was mentally, and emotionally draining, I brought this student in and sat her down. She wiped her face of and tried to muscle up the courage to tell her story. She revealed to me that she was upset because her mother is making her drive a 1994 Cougar to school everyday and it is embarrassing, and she doesn't think that is fair. That was her dilemma. That was the even that stopped her world from spinning. Initially, I wanted to slap her and shake her, then tell her to go talk to the girl who just left here about "life being fair"; but I didn't. I listened, consoled, and worked out a plan where she drove to school and parked on the far end of the parking lot so no one would see her. We even met with a principal about her possibly parking in the Driver's Ed. lot until she got her car back from the Collision Center. When we were done making car & parking arraignments, she cried a little more, gave me a hug, and returned to class.

Those students taught me that pain is universal. Both situations were causing dysfunction, which I define as, functioning with pain. I had no right to glorify or demean either of their struggle. I was just supposed to listen and offer suggestions when asked. It is very hard to do sometimes, but an objective ear hears the clearest. But that's just my opinion though, and who the hell am I?

Look Who's Back

I know you guys probably thought that I was gonna be done with this site due to the fact that I took so much time off from writing. That is definitely not the case. I'm back and I will try to keep it that way as long as possible. Lately there has been several personal and professional problems, miscommunication, and just plain old blatant disrespect. It has kept me in a particularity bad space and I'm just now breaking out of it. I hope I haven't lost the people who read and I hope you tell others to check the site out. It is a real release for me and it helps even more to imagine that others may be reading and possibly sharing input. But that's just my opinion though, and who the hell am I?
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