The Awakening Of A Therapist

Today I thought I would share with you about the journey it takes to be an effective counselor/therapist.  This has been my life for most of my adulthood, listening and guiding those in search of help along the journey called life.  When I was young I was shy and I knew how to listen intently to those I counseled.  Most people love to be listened to and that is primarily what I did with my clients. 

I worked with addicts, people struggling with mental health issues, couples, families, and in group settings.  Clients benefited because they got to hear their own thoughts out loud as they talked away.  They also got a dose of unconditional acceptance free from the ordinary judging that fills most people’s lives.  This all helps to brighten ones sense of self which is important on the journey towards wellness.

As I matured I found myself less fascinated by their stories and more interested in what was getting in their way from creating the life they wanted.  My counseling became focused on the content of the emotions and the blocks that come from not expressing. 

This new direction in my work was a reflection of wanting to move the client from problems to solutions.  This represented my own growth in which I moved toward more self-empowerment in my own life.  I started to wake up more fully in this state of my own development.

My next phase of therapeutic intervention happened because of my own deeper search for meaning and purpose.  I matured as a person and focused more on how my clients could grow to more fully express their own more expanded nature. 

The human potential has always been an area I enjoyed exploring with clients.   In this phase of my counseling my goal was to help others more fully express who they are.  This is a dual journey both the client and the counselor grow as they go.  There is no longer the idea that I know what is best for my client.  They are infinitely more wise about their own life than I am.  My work is now about inviting and encouraging their own highest expression.

Now my work is different at subtle levels.  My listening carefully is much more about being fully present.  It is my responsibility to do my own work so that I show up as consciously as I can.  Through my personal growth I am now more patient with the process and more at peace within.  This allows me to deal with more chaos in my clients and it gives them the freedom to be more truly who they are in the moment. 

In my present job, I work with addicts in the early stages of recovery and they often bring lots of anxiousness, ego dominance, dishonesty, and impatience.  I now just sit with them in mindful practice and invite them to thaw out from the journey of self-numbing they have been on.  I invite them to explore the part of them untouched by the insanity of their life.  This part I call the higher self, others might call it their soul or spirit.  Together we explore the possibilities of coming more fully into their lives. This journey is more spiritual at times than psychological. 

My work has deepened with clients as my inner work has expanded.  I could not have done what I do now, when I started in this work, because I was a much different person.   Now together we both get to step into the moment of what is waiting in us for full expression.  This path is rewarding one.

In your own life I am sure you too have experience an evolution of who you are.  Being a parent teaches you constantly.  Careers evolve as you evolve.  Relationships expand or dissolve as you do.  Relationship with your spirit also transforms over time.  All this makes you a more enriched person of depth, growth and compassion.  Remember next time you have some time to talk with someone be sure and ask them about what they have learned about life through their own living.

Peace Letter #24

Dear Mr. Obama,

In this past year what did you learn most from your challenging on the job training?  What has surprised you about the responsibilities placed in your capable hands?  How can we lend you support in meaningful ways?

Let us help take a load off you by encouraging you to withdraw many of our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and help them in other ways.  You were given a mess and none of us expect a victory so lets leave peacefully and help in more positive ways.

Thank you for your courage,

Joseph Bernard, Ph.D.

Join me and send President Obama emails of support and encourage the end of war at: