Recognizing ones strengths and weaknesses promotes personal growth and stimulates cognitive awareness to enhanced stronger versions of ourselves. In saying such, it is not an easy task to assess yourself freely without judgment. Thankfully, throughout my time in this graduate program, I flourished in defining and accepting both my limitations as well as my strengths, genuinely. Exceptional levels of empathy and acceptance, as well as flexibility and the desire for personal connection, are major personal strength that not only led me toward the mental health field but help me maintain a desire and drive for it.
Furthermore, I am radiantly optimistic, with an enthusiastic initiative to educate myself not merely for my benefit but rather so I can be trained for the benefit of others. Being optimistic allows me to be an encourager of exploration for others, as I will in time help others, help themselves. My strengths help guide me both personally and as a professional in development.
With such strengths, I, like others have my so-called limitations or of the recent, growth areas.
I have two specific weaknesses that I recognize as being harmful, if not appropriately managed, specifically in the mental health field. More often than not, I overinvest myself in others, emotionally and mentally, which becomes overwhelmingly draining at times. I fear this may only get worse if I cannot find the space and boundaries to step outside of my work and clients. Self- care and personal therapy will in time help strengthen this area.
Secondly, what used to be a strength of mine, perfectionism, has become a more significant limitation as a beginning therapist.
In other words, I have always been a perfectionist in the business world, which allows deadlines to be met and work to be exceedingly organized. Conversely, within this field, it is nearly impossible to be perfect as a beginning therapist. I recognize it will take experience, supervision, time and I am sure, mistakes to be a successful therapist; all factors in which I have no personal control over. Therefore, letting go of my perfectionism and focusing on merely learning and asking for guidance, not only when required but as a way of growing will be an essential part of the practicum and internship experience for me.
Taking the time during the upcoming semesters to apply practical skills and education into the clinical world, while learning how to maintain self-care is one of my leading personal goals for this part of the program. I am humbly honored, yet frightened, about the upcoming experience as I will have the responsibility of helping guide and change others lives. I strive to do such, honorably, but by also balancing the duality of roles I will be faced with for the first time.
My second goal is to learn how to ask for help and be open to sharing my weaknesses as well as my mistakes so that I can not only better connect with my supervisor and peers but strengthen my character and grow professionally as a clinician. Olsen (1963) recommends in his research on becoming a successful counselor that the new clinician not only be open and honest despite any feelings of incompetency but also that a new counselor work in groups, with peers to discuss challenges as well as success stories. With that, although I feel anxious for group supervision, I now recognize the benefits and normalcy it may bring to the experience. Thus, by the end of this experience, I want to look back without regret for failing to seek guidance or asking enough questions. I strive to be functioning autonomously and be able to professionally integrate my academic learning and personal experience with confidence by the end of this program.
Historically, I have been na?ve to believe that I was truly accepting of all people, no matter their sexual orientation, gender, religion, racial identity, beliefs and so forth; thus, in my mind, I would never experience Sigmund Freuds attribution of countertransference. However, it wasnt until I learned more about countertransference and read Weil (2010) explanation of the term as the unconscious emotions, imaginations, behaviors, opinions, and psychological defenses innate counselors experience when working with certain clients, that helped opened my eyes to my own potential countertransference. Although I may be an overall accepting individual, it is still possible and more than likely I will experience such in some sessions. Reeder, Veach, MacFarlane, and LeRoys, study examined counselorsbelief that they will experience countertransference. The results suggested that overall countertransference is a common experience that occurs in both simple and routine cases almost as frequently as in emotionally complex client cases (2017).
With such results, I did some personal exploring. What I found is that I have distress both personally and professionally surrounding the idea of working with sex offenders or people have sexually abused others as clients. Professionally, I know it is my responsibility to protect and care for my client while also protecting society at large. Thus, working with sex offenders proves to be perplexing because these clients have harmed others and unless they can cease their desires entirely, they will commit further harm. Knowing this triggers feelings of hopelessness and frustration for this particular population, although as a helper and caregiver by nature I am highly motivated to see these clients as I would any other client, as a person first.
I also not do well with large males who speak aggressively, I tend to shut down and become reserved. Working in an addiction center for my practicum site may provide space for a client like this. Therefore, I must be consciously aware of these particular populations and any disruptions in our therapeutic process due to their appearance, stature or tone. I will continuously check my ability to provide the services the client needs and discuss this openly with my supervisor. Nonetheless, countertransference can be managed with specific training programs, continuing education, awareness, and proper supervision (Reeder, Veach, MacFarlane, & LeRoy, 2017).
I am hesitant to be definitive as I feel I will only truly find my theoretical orientation through time and practice, possibly even failure in exploration. My heart guides me towards saying eclectic based off of what I have learned through my academics. I agree with Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) as I believe identifying thoughts and restructuring or re-framing is extremely important, but that for true change to occur work should also be done on behaviors alongside cognitions. I take to the empathetic and warm Rogerian side of cognitive therapy and reside in contrast to Elliss model of confrontation and more with Becks Socratic dialogue.
Aside from CBT, I have a calling towards Exposure Therapies as I eventually desire to specialize in sexual assault victims and focus on trauma work. Therefore, I will eventually be certified in Shapiro’s eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In combination with these two theories I find Third Wave therapies enticing; specifically Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, which of the recent has been gaining much attention as research indicates its efficacy in preventing patient relapse. If perhaps CBT is not working for a client, MBCT may, according to the research, be beneficial for those clients in reducing symptoms.
I recognize I have a great combination of approaches and interventions I agree with; entering practicum with such knowledge will help guide me with clients and hopefully narrow and define my interests. Being an eclectic therapist, if that is where I end up, will allow me to employ elements from a specific range of therapeutic techniques and develop a particular plan of action that is personally tailored to the clients individual needs.