Follow Up to “Living with a Diagnosis”

I started to compose a response to Alecya’s comment on my entry, “Living with a Diagnosis,” and then I realized that I should really make this its own post:

I have to be fair to my fellow students.  We’re in our first semester of the program, not all have psychology backgrounds, and a couple are still technically undergrads.  The university provides the option for senior undergrad psych students to take some beginning grad school counseling classes for credit if they’re planning to enter that program upon graduation.  I think we have a course on diagnosis and mental illness later on.  They’ll learn.  If not, I’m with Alecya- I wouldn’t want them as my counselor.

Most of the counseling program is geared toward people who want to work with everyday sorts of problems, not people with mental illness.  They will, of course, have clients who struggle with one, but that won’t be their main focus.  If this is how they will be, I’m glad of that.  Our professors say working with people who have mental illness is more the province of psychologists.  My therapist disagrees.  After all, how are you going to know, to weed out those with or without, until you start working with your clients?  And then you have an ethical obligation to continue to help them until you’ve exhausted all other options and just can’t do it.  Then and only then do you refer, also an ethical obligation.

If I am able to go into corrections counseling, I can be certain that at least a few of my clients will be living with some form of mental illness.  A lot of offenders have a diagnosis.  I think my own problems will make me a better counselor for that population.  At any rate, I hope so.

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2 Responses to Follow Up to “Living with a Diagnosis”

  1. Becky says:

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought to your last post and I just didn’t want to spout off a comment without really giving it the thought content that it deserves. Here’s the thing, your diagnosis makes you human. It is a part of you, it is part of what makes you, you. Does it define you? Nope, not even close. It helps give you an insight into many different areas. It makes you a more “well-rounded” person, which means you will be more open minded once you finish school and become a therapist.

    There are so many people out there that have suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar, and a whole host of other undiagnosed illnesses. They will be coming to see their counselor/therapist/shrink for help with unrelated things. You, having this as a background, will be a little more in tune with signs/symptoms of mental illness.

    I wouldn’t want a therapist who thinks that someone isn’t able to help a person if they have an illness. My snarky response is obviously that therapist wannabe has an undiagnosed stupidity/judgmental problem. My less snarky response is that person truly hasn’t seen what mental illness can do to a person. Or how it is able to be controlled.

    It really pisses me off when people spout off judgmental sayings about something they have no idea about. I don’t see a difference between depression and high blood pressure. They can both be controlled with medications, learning a different lifestyle, counseling….the bottom line is that its up to the person to be willing to make the changes. And if you have that knowledge, that makes you an even better therapist, because you can help the person make an informed decision.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that you are a wonderful person and I have no doubt about the kind of therapist you area going to be….a fantastic one! You have more empathy, compassion, and kindness than most people I know. You’re always willing to listen to me, give me your thoughts, and make me realize that you will support me now matter what I choose to do. Please don’t let anyone make you feel any less about yourself! You are going to be great! And I love you lots!! Sorry I hijacked your comment section :)

  2. Aravis says:

    You know what? I have the best friends. Ever.

    Love you, Becky! And your snarky response, too. ;0)

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