For some reason people seem to put impossibly high expectations on counselors. We are not supposed to get angry or upset. We must pretend like we have it together all the time, and we must have ALL the answers to ANY and EVERY problem you present to us – WRONG! Counselors are human, not God. Although I techinically have the title of Certified Stepfamily Counselor, I don’t even like to use the word counselor. That title or word is attached to some sort of unattainable perfection that leaves people feeling as if we think we’re better than we are and WE ARE NOT. We are people who feel a wide range of emotions just like everyone else. When we feel attacked, we feel the urge to attack back AND sometimes we do. We get mad, sad, angry and happy, and sometimes we have to let it all out. As a matter of fact, I recommend it; it’s therapeutic to vent from time to time.
Many people who are living in blended families definitely need an outlet to get things off their chests. Internalizing these feelings can often times make things worse. I suggest to readers and clients to purchase a journal, start a blog or tell a friend (who will not judge you) what you are feeling about your frustrations regarding your blended family life. You don’t have to tell that person you’re in conflict with directly. Doing the above-mentioned is therapeutic enough; trust me. Another great option is visiting The Stepfamily Letter Project, a site designed to allow blended families to write anonymous letters to a member of their family. Stepmoms, stepdads, stepkids, husbands, bio-moms, half-siblings - can write letters to the people in their families – be it heartful and joyful to angry or sad. The authors of each letter is kept secret and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’ll share them with your family. It’s a brilliant idea as we ALL need that outlet from time to time; even counselors!!
Because of this unattainble idea of perfection that many people attach to counselors, some people feel as if they shouldn’t go to a counselor who isn’t perfect. I disagree. I’d prefer to speak with someone who can relate to what I am going through and therefore will not judge me.
Anytime I get an email from a reader or a potential client, the first thing I almost always hear is, “I was really hesitant about contacting you because I don’t want to be judged.” To which I reply, “Have you read my blog? You will experience no judgement days with me.” When they ask me if I have ever felt like throwing the ex-wife, second wife, my ex…in front of a freight train, I reply with, “Of course, sometimes I still do!” After they are done talking to me they almost always comment on the fact that I am relatable and honest about my own feelings. I don’t judge because I’ve been where they’re at and still feel the same things (from time to time) that they may be feeling. They appreciate the fact that I am human and beg them not to apologize for what they are feeling as we are all entitled to feel the way we feel. IT IS COMPLETELY NATURAL! It makes them feel less threatned and intimidated by this ridiculous idea of perfection. None of us are perfect and counselors aren’t here to act like we are, while judging you. We are here to lend an ear and offer advice and support based on our experiences and/or academic knowledge. We know that life isn’t about perfection or not having conflict. It’s about how you work through and manage your conflict and how you accept life’s many imperfections along the way.
Again, I don’t like to use the word counselor. I’d much rather be viewed as a friend who’s willing to be an open book regarding her journey so that you can learn, whether it’s what to do or what not to do, while on your journey.
Grace and Peace,