May 9, 2012

help isn't always professional

I recently learned something important about working with people. You see, I'm a counselor by education, a case manager by day, and a people person by birth, so I do a lot of people-work. I'm trained to do all sorts of therapeutic interventions. I know how to de-escalate someone who's agitated and I can make 50 minutes of therapy fly right on by. I can teach coping skills and strategies for prevention of relapse. I know these things, and there's always more to learn - and I believe they work or I wouldn't do what I do. I believe the people I work with need these things. Honestly, I believe a lot of the time I need these things.

I believe in therapy, in medication, in the power and effectiveness of mental health treatment. But I also believe we have to be open to seeing what people really need in a given moment - and that it's not always those things. The other day I watched anxiety reduce, spirits lift, and mood shift radically in about 4 minutes and 37 seconds and I didn't do a dang thing to make it happen. Because on that particular day, she didn't need a professional intervention. She needed to sing some Whitney Houston.

People need help that is professional, sometimes. And sometimes people need help that isn't. Sometimes they just need a minute to do something that makes them happy. Sometimes people just need people who will give them space to be people. I want to keep learning how to better help people professionally. But no matter how many letters end up after my name, I hope I will never lose sight of the therapeutic power of basking in the sunlight, driving with the windows down, and singing your favorite Whitney Houston song at the top of your lungs.

You may not work with people, but at the very least, you are people, so listen up. Do something that makes you happy. Take the space you need and feel free in it. Relieve your anxiety, lift your spirits, shift your mood, and never underestimate the power of the things that bring you joy. Watch The Bachelor, drink a diet root beer, listen to metal/country/90's R&B, pay a visit to a swingset. I don't care if it seems silly or inconsequential. It's therapeutic.

Take it from me. I'm a professional.

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