It was the week of 9/11 in 2001 when I learned from an optometrist that I probably had a precocious form of a degenerative eye disease and it was later that Christmas week when the 3rd physician I consulted confirmed the prognosis that I probably wouldn’t see well enough to drive in about 8 or 10 years. Bummer, I thought. At the age of 45 and being a professional pilot I had a choice to make: continue flying and hope for the best or use the time (and good vision) to retrain in order to provide for my family even if my vision would later become so impaired that I would be legally blind or worse.
So, I began thinking of a new career and asked myself: When am I apt to lose all track of time? The answer was immediate: Engaging and being a listening ear for all sorts of people, whether I knew them or not. And then two more questions quickly came up: What kind of job does that and can you do it without having to worry about bumping around strange offices if you can’t see very well? Once again, the answer was immediate: Counseling.
Well, I didn’t waste any time getting going and I didn’t look back. By New Year’s week I was enrolled in a series of courses that led to a Master’s in professional counseling with dual training in psychotherapy and relational systems therapy and a PhD in professional counseling. I completed an extended full-time pro bono internship and several years of supervised clinical practice in community counseling and adoption preservation (which I dubbed family preservation) at a major social service agency where I trained with colleagues consumed with treating children with moderate to severe attachment and trauma and helping parents become the parents such children needed. I also developed a passion and compassion for adults of all ages troubled with stress, anxiety, depression and myriad other mental health and relational problems; and I saw many make dramatic changes as they began to grapple with nagging ways of thinking, feeling and interacting and so found themselves more in charge of themselves.
In the course of gaining several thousands of hours of experience working with hundreds of clients (individuals, couples and families) first as a new professional counselor and ultimately as a clinical professional counselor, supervisor and then as an internal clinical consultant, I developed my own authentic way of coming alongside and joining with people seeking help. I became a partner-helper, a teammate of those seeking help, sometimes taking the lead but letting my client-teammates take the lead whenever possible and letting them be: to be less burdened and more authentic, more real. more charge of their selves.
Today I am an expert partner-practitioner, collaborating with clients and those in other disciplines who might be of help, such as traditional and alternative healthcare providers or other mental health and relational caregivers, in order to provide the fullest, most robust support, insight and service to others.
Do I love my work? You bet! And I enjoy the people I work with even more.
PS: There have been changes to my sight, but I still see quite well. (Thank you, Lord!)
Springfield Counseling Services – Lifestream Solutions