Why I Want(ed) to be a Counselor

I have been in and out of the mental health system for the last 15 years.

Let me be totally honest; the system sucks. I could go on and on about just how badly it sucks, but I just don’t have the energy for that right now.

I’ve had quite a number of therapists. Most of them have been horrible. Some of them, I seriously question how they were (and likely still are) allowed to practice counseling.

My first therapist enjoyed talking about herself more than about me.

My second therapist avoided any topic that was mildly serious. You self-injured? Oh. How is school going? 

My fourth or so therapist: Your mother loves you. You’re just overreacting.

The social worker assigned to me after my first hospitalization: I think you have an attachment disorder. You can never leave your family. You should try drinking wine (knowing I had a history of alcohol abuse). Your mother loves you. She’s just overprotective because she cares. I get it, I have problems with my mom, too. All children have problems with their parents. It’s okay to be suicidal.

I could go on about this woman. I had been telling her for weeks that I felt something wasn’t right, maybe it was my medication or what, I don’t know. But I told her that I was suicidal and concerned about ending up in the hospital again (or worse). That’s when she told me it was okay to be suicidal, and basically ignored my concerns. For the record, I ended up hospitalizing myself shortly after that, and my medications were changed.

Unfortunately, they sent me right back to this woman. I used to refer to her as SSW (shitty social worker). It had gotten so bad by that point, that I sought out a therapist just to help me cope with SSW (I didn’t want to risk missing my appointments with SSW and being re-hospitalized). I dealt with her for a few more months.

During what would turn out to be our last session, I told SSW of my plans to run away and leave my family behind. She immediately shot me down, telling me I could never leave my family. You can’t abandon your family. They are your family. What? How could you tell me this, knowing my history? I was so angry, so filled with rage. I knew I couldn’t go back to her. It was not healthy. She should not be a counselor in any capacity. She is dangerous.

That was my final push. I told myself I needed to become a counselor because people in need should not be subjected to people like her. Victims should not be invalidated by therapists. Clients should not be put in danger. Clients should not be ignored. I wanted to be everything my previous counselors were not. I wanted to change the profession. I wanted counselors to know that mothers abuse their children, and that they need to acknowledge that it happens instead of telling the person they are just misunderstanding their reality.

I wanted to be a counselor to make a difference in others’ lives. I wanted to go on that journey with them. I wanted to witness their growth and transformation. But I also wanted to initiate change and make a difference with a larger impact. I wanted to change the way counselors were being educated. Why aren’t they being educated about female-perpetrated abuse? Why are they not being educated or trained in dissociative disorders? Why is the system continually dropping the ball when we are perfectly capable of being better?

That is why I wanted to be a counselor.

But things change.

It’s time to reassess

It’s been a hectic two weeks. I have a lot of decision-making to do in a short amount of time.

I’m not feeling well. I’ve been working all week, which is good for distraction, but bad for leaving me any extra energy to apply to my life outside of work. Pain is also draining me, and I cannot get an appointment to get cortisone injections earlier than the middle of June. By then, I may just amputate my own feet (I’m kidding – I don’t have the energy for self-amputation).

Recently, my abilities were questioned. Now I have to deal with more shit on top of the shit I already manage on a daily basis to fight for something I shouldn’t have to fight for. It’s not that I can’t manage more shit; I feel I shouldn’t have to. I have never given anyone any reason to doubt me, or any reason to question my ability to do anything. I have never and will never put anyone in harm’s way.

Regardless, I am now questioning my life’s path. Maybe I am not where I am supposed to be. I have sort of, unfortunately, lost the motivation to continue where I am at. Part of me wants to stay so I can prove to these people that I can do anything I want to do, but part of me doesn’t want to be around people that feel the need to bring other people down.

I’ve been looking at other educational options. Perhaps entering a new program at a different school. Perhaps pursuing a doctorate instead of a masters. I’m not questioning my pursuit of psychology and counseling. That will never change. It is actually something I will need in order to be taken seriously, especially as I continue to grow PAFPAC. I want to be a counselor. I have had so many shitty experiences with counselors and I know that something needs to change. There are cracks in the system that need to be fixed. And I believe I can do that.

There’s just so much to consider. I wish I was more financially comfortable so I could take time to consider everything. I considered asking my grandmother for a loan – that is how desperate I’ve become. My grandmother seems oblivious to everything (as you can read here) and I’d be putting myself at risk of interacting with my abusers if she tells them about the whole thing. I’m still considering it, I just don’t know either way at this point.

I wish I could work more jobs, but it’s physically impossible at this time. I fear I will need surgery again to repair the damage in my foot. I never had the surgery I was supposed to have last summer because that was the time I ran away, and my feet are significantly worse now than they were back then. If surgery happens, I’m really screwed. I can’t afford to be out of work. Hell, I can’t even afford to be working.

It sucks right now. Everything just sucks. But I keep on keepin’ on.

CPCE

I got the results of my CPCE Monday night.

For those that don’t know, the CPCE is the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination. It is a vital part of graduating your masters program and earning your counseling credentials. At my school, they have you take it in your first semester just as a measurement of progress when you take it again before graduation.

So when I took it back in February, it really wasn’t going to count for anything. Students fail it, and that’s expected and okay, because students are just entering the program and know absolute zero shit about counseling. The average score of entering graduate students is somewhere in the 50s.

The minimum score required to pass the exam and graduate is a 70. It’s 160 multiple choice questions divided into eight categories, all focused on foundations of counseling that you would learn throughout your masters program. It’s a lot of knowledge packed into one exam. Like an SAT of counseling. Students legit stress over passing this exam. And there are some that don’t pass.

Even though it didn’t really matter what my score was, I e-mailed the professor and asked if I could find out anyway. Just for shits and giggles. I met with her Monday before my class. Unfortunately for me, I had been mentally dealing with the stress from earlier in the day, so I couldn’t quite take in all of the positive greatness of what I was about to find out in in that moment.


I passed the CPCE. Not only did I pass, but I scored higher than the national average. I scored higher than students who had already been through the graduate program. I was not even one month into the program when I took this exam. Not even one month. I didn’t even try. I didn’t study. I didn’t prepare. This doesn’t happen.

My professor seemed so happy, and I broke down and cried. Partly because of the anxiety I was still experiencing from earlier in the day, and partly because I have continually doubted my ability to ever be a counselor, and this went against that directly. Here was proof, on paper, that I had the brains to be a counselor. So why is it still so hard for me to accept?

I think, no, I know, that other people have more faith and belief in my abilities to be a counselor than I do. And that in itself is a problem, and I recognize that. I also know that there are ways in which my life could be significantly easier than it is right now, and that is putting a damper on my outlook on life.

I have a gift to give. I have a story to tell. I have a heart to share. I have people to help. I have souls to reach. I have a world to change. And instead, I’m sitting here, waiting for my life to end, letting all of these good things waste away to nothing, because I’m too weak to take a stand for myself.