Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Week two in my courses

I have decided to post a weekly summary and a bit of information about what I am required to do weekly in my courses. I am currently taking 9 credit hours of graduate coursework. My classes are (1)Philosophy and theories of counseling, (2) Ethics and professional studies, and (3) Lifespan human development for helping professionals. These posts are just to give you a general idea of what I am doing in school. As I go along I will post on specific papers etc. I will also be posting a picture of my personal calendar with assignments for the month etc soon!

So for week two here is what I have to get done:
1. Theories:
Discussion post- Counselor as person and professional and why ethics are important.
Responses to other students
Life philosophy paper- Explores student worldviews and belief systems.

2. Ethics:
Case study 1 discussion
Responses to students
Case study 2 discussion
Responses to students

3. Lifespan
Discussion post 1
Responses to students
Discussion post 2
Responses to students

Looks pretty simple right? I am actually feeling a bit relaxed so far in this program but this is only week two so give me a few weeks and things will pick up and be crazy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Out of your mind into your life

The view about a 5minute walk from my house.

How many of us live in our minds instead of living our life? One of the books I picked up a bit ago is titled " Get our of your mind and into your life" By Steven C. Hayes, Phd. So far I have been reading a few pages of this book each evening and I have to say that I am liking it. Right out of the gate Dr. Hayes ask you to consider a few unconventional things such as the notion that "psychological pain is important, it is normal, and everyone has it" and "pain and suffering are two different states of being". If you stop and think about both of those statements you will see the importance of each. I will have to post more about this book later but for now I wanted to say that so far the book is good!

This book did get me thinking about my own life (which is the point right?) and one thing I am going to try to begin doing is living the life I want now. Not waiting for something to happen or saying I am going to do something later because the reality is later may not come. That is reality a sad reality but reality none the less. I need to focus more positive energy on the things in my life that bring me joy so starting today I am going to have a few things in my post that bring me joy and that I love.

Right now I am loving this nail color.....

And I am loving this song right now:
Gotye- Somebody that I used to know (Click song title to be taken to youtube video! )

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This weekend my father in law is in town so on top of the normal things I do we are entertaining and visiting places. Today we went down to Seattle (about a 2 hour drive) and spent the day browsing at Pikes Place Market and then we headed to the Space Needle. I bought myself to new pairs of ear rings and some hair twisty things, I will post a picture of these soon!

This was my first official week of school and nothing major has happened yet hence the lack of school related posts! I promise they are to come but until things get going it will be slow. I do have a few new posts in my head that I will be adding soon but since we have company until Monday it will most likely be after then.

I want to also say congrats to a good friend of mine Casey who just had her 3rd little one this evening....welcome to the world Joshua.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I can already see it now

Yesterday I was very busy! My little boy had to attend preschool, I had to go to the gym and then later in the early afternoon I had my official job interview. A friend of mine also decided to apply for the same company so we child swapped in the waiting room :) She needed someone to watch her little guy while she interviewed and I needed someone to watch mine. So it worked out perfectly and we both got jobs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night I started having second guesses about if I should work or not. The first couple of weeks I will be in training for 40 hours weekly, after that I am hoping to only work about 30-32 hours weekly. As I started to think about everything last night I am getting worried on my ability to handle it all. A 3/4 time job, a full time load for a demanding graduate program, being a wife, mother, cook, housekeeper etc and still have time to have time to myself. If you know me you know that I am one of those people who always seems to be doing something. Like I am constantly busy and constantly doing. In fact when I am not I feel like I should be. My friends have often commented they don't know how I have the energy to do it all. Somehow I do though and I thrive. But I am worried about doing a job plus everything I normally do, but I am mainly worried about how/if it will affect my school.

So those of you who have jobs and other large commitments outside the home how do you handle it? It occurred to me yesterday that I will be leaving my house most likely about 7am each morning and not returning until about 5pm. Then I will have to figure out dinner, play with my son, get him into bed at 7pm and then go right into homework. So how do you handle it moms who work???

Monday, January 23, 2012


I have had many friends along the years but only a handful I can truly say are my really good friends. Yesterday I had an " argument" with a friend in an online format no less I had to stop and ask myself exactly what our friendship even was and sadly we have lived apart for the last 10 years and have grown apart. I have known it for a long time now. Things have been different for years as I think we simply grew apart from a lack of nurturing the friendship we had established before we moved apart.

As I am sitting here after this fight I wonder if there was something that I did to cause us to drift apart or if it simply was the miles between us and the fact that we basically live separate lives. It tests everything you know about yourself as a person when someone you have known for over 10 years slowly stops making an effort to be your friend. Maybe it was me, maybe it was her, maybe it was circumstance, the fact is our friendship is not the same and on a deeper level that makes me sad. Sad because this person was someone I have always felt connected to and someone who I felt understood me. It is hard to find friends who really "get" you and she is one of those people.

In my own personal discovery I have decided to stop making efforts where none is reciprocated. I have to do this for my own well being. So if you are a friend of mine and you are reading this post, a friendship is a two way street and it needs to be driven on from both sides if it is going to work and if it ever gets turned into a one way street I will stop driving down it.

This story has a happy ending as the fight was actually good for us! We talked and aired a few things that should have been said years ago and it seems to have made a huge difference and we are back to talking again :). I just want to tell her that I do appreciate our friendships and that I am glad we are talking again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ahhhh books

Is there really anything better than cracking open a new book? We are a family of readers, I read my husband reads (although he milks books unlike me who reads most books in a matter of days, takes him WEEKS!) and my 4.5 year old LOVES to read. So we get excited about going to bookstores. Today was such a day. We got snow in our area and were pretty much stuck in the house all week so today we went to lunch, the wally world, and the bookstore where I proceeded to buy a few books.

All but one of those is somewhat related to counseling. Of course Nanny Returns has nothing to do with counseling....but I have to read what I call mindless reading (no offense to the author meant here) to keep my sanity. The majority of my time is spent reading textbooks so I have to have something I can read that doesn't relate to textbooks or counseling or helping someone do this or that and doesn't require much thought on my part. I also decided today that I needed to start practicing some form of daily meditation, hence meditation book above :) I will list these books on my what I am reading page and once I finish reading them I will do a mini-review of each.

You know something I thought today......I want to become a sponge. A sponge that soaks up knowledge about anything and everything to do with counseling and how I can 1. become a better counselor and 2. have a large variety of tools at my disposal to accomplish number 1. So that is what I intend to do. I am going to order a few more books from Amazon and I am considering signing up for a PTSD workshop in March so wish me luck!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

There will be issues addressed in relation to thy self

Picture from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/training/studentassociates/drawingsfromlife/selfreflection.aspx

After reading the syllabuses for each of my courses and reading various information posted along with it I have come to the conclusion that my first three counseling courses and most likely the rest of this program are going to provide ample time and opportunity to address self issues. In fact I think it is required. Many of the assignments given ask us to reflect and provide examples and answers based upon our lives, experiences, personal beliefs etc. Honestly I can say that I am excited about this. I believe that to be an effective counselor you must first accomplish a couple of things.

First you must be open to having counseling and dealing with your own issues. After all if you can't attend counseling how are you going to expect others to? Personally I have seen a counselor many times and have recently begin going again. I have an appointment next Wednesday :)

Secondly I think as a counselor in training it is important to know yourself and your reasoning behind your beliefs, values, opinions, and world view. As a counselor you will be creating a helping relationship with many people from all walks of life and the majority will NOT hold the same beliefs, values, and opinions as you do. You have to prepare for this and see if you can honestly set aside your own "stuff" in order to help someone else.

Lastly self reflection is probably one of the most important tools that a counseling program could provide its students! It allows us to spend time really getting to know ourselves with the hopes that it will make us better, effective counselors. So I plan to spend the next two years self reflecting and discovering things about myself that I might not have known otherwise.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself" Leo Tolstoy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How do you view mental illness?

Tonight as I am browsing the various blogs that I read I came across a thought on one of them about how mental illness is viewed in our society. Clearly there is a stigma that is still attached to mental illness. The vast majority of society views suffering from a mental illness as something a person should hide. They also view anyone who seeks out the help of a trained professional such as a counselor or therapist as weak, even if this person is simply going to get help communicating with those in their lives or for help with their marriage. People go to a counselor for a variety of reasons not just a mental illness yet therapy itself has a stigma but I will save that talk for another post!

People fear what they do not understand. The majority of people simply do not understand mental illness or therapy in general. Common assumptions about those who suffer from a mental illness are that they are crazy, psycho, weak, poor, and my favorite is that they have chosen their disorder. Do people chose to have cancer? Would you ever accuse someone of choosing to have cancer? It has been proven time and time again medically that people suffer from changes within their brains that cause mental illness. It is not just made up and people don't choose to have it. If you want more information just Google "biological causes for mental illness" and you will have plenty of information at your disposal.

Yet we continue to stigmatize those who do. We continue to portray them in the media as crazy drunken homeless psycho's and continue to laugh or be afraid of them. I ask you why? Why do we continue to do this? Why do we as a society not try to understand these people and treat them with the same respect and care that you would give to someone suffering from what you consider a medical illness such as cancer, a blood disorder, infertility etc. A mental illness IS A MEDICAL DISORDER and should be treated as such. Now I am not saying that everyone who suffers from a mental disorder should be treated using a medical model approach but we should consider a mental disorder as being a medical disorder and provide treatment for it just as any other medical disorder.

So I challenge you to stop and consider your own thoughts about mental illness and what judgements you pass to those who suffer and decide if these opinions are related to fact or societal influence.

For more information about the stigma of mental illness see these links:



Let the fun begin!!!

Classes start Monday but I already have access to all three of my courses and the majority of the course content such as syllabuses and timelines. I have to say I am quite surprised at the timeline and what is due when. I am used to 8 week terms so having 16 weeks to complete the required coursework is going to be a change, a good change! I am so used to feeling like every evening I have something to work on and with this program it seems like I will be able to have a life and enjoy college. Those two things do not typically go together. For example this is a picture of a typical month of my calendar in my undergraduate program:
All the various colors highlights means that something was due and let me say that I only took 2 courses over the term of 8 weeks but as you can see I still had PLENTY to keep me busy! This was on top of all the other responsibilities that I have including being a mom and wife. I took 72 credits over the course of 1 year 2 months and I am proud to say that I was able to make A's in all classes except 2 (insert self horn tooting here please!).

Since I am considering going back to work full time the time to have a life is a good thing. I am not sure how I am going to juggle being a full time graduate student, a full time employee and a full time mother and wife but people do it daily so no reason I can't give it a go. I am hoping to be able to work about 30 hours weekly so maybe more like 3/4 time employee :)

I am still super excited about all the changes coming to my life and I look forward to sharing them with the readers of this blog!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Photo provided by Google search :)

One of the things that is recommended for beginning counseling students is to take stock of their own values and beliefs and how these values and beliefs can affect their clients in a counseling relationship. Naturally a counselor can influence their clients in both healthy and unhealthy ways and one way to do so in an unhealthy way is by trying to impart their values and beliefs onto their clients.

Counselors/Therapist ( I use the word interchangeably) have to begin working on knowing exactly what their values/beliefs are the minute they begin their educational counseling program. Even if you think you know what they are I guarantee that something will come up and surprise you so it is important even if you think you know to take stock many times throughout your program. Often students will begin a program and not really know what their values/beliefs are and for these students it is even more important that they figure this out or it could create some very sticky situations when dealing with clients.

Here is a great website that has a HUGE list of values. It encourages you to print off the list and place a mark by the ones that "speak" to you. I briefly scanned the list and below is a short list of a few values that speak to me.

Open minded

Of course this list is not all inclusive but it is some of the most important to me. The reason for this post is because I intend to start looking at how my personal values/beliefs can have an impact on my future clients. I pride myself on being a very open and understanding person but I am sure that there will come a day when this may not be the case and of course this is when I will have to work to make sure that my values and beliefs do not get in the way of my counseling relationship with clients.

So looking at that list what are some of your values? Do you see any that if you are working to become a counselor that could impact that relationship?

One week to go!!!

I am down to one week before my courses start. I am super duper excited to start my courses and I can't wait to begin my journey as I work to become a counselor. I have spoken to other counselors who say the programs for counseling are fairly intense and that if at all possible I should try not to work full time during the program. This information just confirms my suspicion. I was hoping that I would be able to work part-time up and until I begin my internships.

In the last few days I have been able to log into my blackboard and view discussion threads made by the other students within the program. I have to say that I have read countless threads on the board and I have learned quite a bit . I really want more information about our intensives that are required each summer and I am hoping that I get more information the closer it gets but I just might have to ask questions. I did find out that classes go from 8-4 or 5pm daily and we might have homework afterward. This kinda makes my plan of taking my family along kind of pointless yet I don't know if I can go without seeing them for 7-8 days! I guess I will make that decision in a couple of months.

I ordered my remaining two textbooks and received my textbook on Ethics in Counseling and Psychotherapy. I have read about three chapters thus far and I wonder why they can't make more of an effort to make ethics more interesting! I mean it is ethics I get that but come on. Perhaps it will get interesting the further along I get into it? 574 pages written on ethics........I would prefer if the book was written with a brief background on ethics and give a case to work through practicing making ethical decisions and then a section on various choices that could be made, but it is ethics so I suppose I should just hope that the course material to go along with the textbook makes this class easier!