By Kate Latimer
The work of a counselor is inherently ironic, and often misunderstood. We are shepherds of grief, sadness, doubt, fear and anger, and know that when we can help our clients feel these things, and look the pain in the eye, that healing occurs. This is the transformational paradox. We often feel worse before we feel better. It takes time to prepare clients to face their demons. At Southwestern, we know that to be able to do this, we must first face down our own demons, so that we are not haunted by the ghosts of our past as we assist another in taming theirs. We must help our clients develop skills to tolerate their distress, and to do so we must seek ways that help us to regulate our own. We learn to trust our lives as they unfold, and to trust that Spirit is always with us, loving us and supporting our growth. Our clients learn that with a counselor, and with their own connection to a higher power, they don’t have to do it alone. Our students cultivate the power of compassionate presence, so they can stand with others in the fire and not be consumed by the flames.