Throughout this semester, I have done a lot of reflecting on what I have to offer my clients as a counselor. Before this semester, I did not think that I had a lot to offer my clients in terms of life experience and a story. After all, as a cradle Catholic graduate student who comes from a white upper-middle class family how can I relate to people who are new in the faith or who come from different socioeconomic, educational, and cultural backgrounds? This question has definitely been answered throughout the semester as my classmates and I have explored our family and religious background as well as discussed some very personal beliefs and experiences. I also realized how much I had been belittling my own story and experiences, and have come to a deeper appreciation for and understanding of my story this semester.
As I explored my story in my classes I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the questions and positive feedback from my classmates and professors. I also began to recognize and appreciate the many unique aspects of my story. I am not only a white, well educated, upper-middle-class Roman Catholic woman, but I am also a “military bratt” who has moved five times, lived in four different states, attended seven different schools, and who is blessed with a wonderfully loving and supportive family (something I take for granted more often than I’d like to admit). I am also blessed to know and be close with most of my wonderfully crazy extended family. They have taught me the cultural values of our Italian, Irish, and German heritages as well as the importance of family and how much of a blessing family is. Finally, the one of the biggest blessings in my life has been the way my parents and siblings inspire me every day to grow more in our Catholic faith. It is our faith that has truly united my family as well as allowed me to have the confidence and foundation necessary to become the woman I am today.
It is quite apparent that the twin rocks of faith and family have been very foundational in my life. Exploring my story more has taught me that being grounded in what is truly important, namely faith, love, and family, provides a great foundation for counseling. Many people I encounter at my internships do not have this foundation, but they appreciate the insight and ideas I am able to give as a result of the foundation that I have. My unique life experiences have also allowed me to relate to my clients and build rapport better than I thought I would be able too. Finally, recognizing the beauty in my own story has definitely helped me to gain more confidence a counselor. This in turn has allowed me to be more effective with my clients as well as opened up my eyes to many more resources that I have available to me through my life experiences and Catholic faith. As I help my clients unlock their own story, I hope to help my build a stronger foundation for their own lives and become the men and women God created them to be.