When I was completing my Masters in Counseling, we were required to take a class on Parenting. I was fine with this, as I have wanted to work with parents as a counselor for a while, but I wondered if everyone felt the same way. I wondered if this was going to be as helpful for someone who had a vision for working with a different population. As I have continued to practice as a counselor, I continue to see just how beneficial understanding parenting really is to the practice of counseling.
I see my role as a parent as coming alongside my children to help them become the adults they are meant to be. My role is pretty much the same thing as a therapist, except I am working with adults. As a therapist, I come alongside my clients as they work through whatever brought them into counseling and help them to become the extraordinary people they are meant to be. My job is not to do all the work for the client but rather to work with them so that they can figure things out. I provide them with acceptance and a safe place to process through life. I challenge them when appropriate to think, and sometimes act, outside the box. I help them move in the direction of their goals. Just as I look forward to the day when my children leave the home, prepared to deal with whatever life throws their way, I rejoice when a client has worked through their issues to the point of no longer needing my services. I know that, if I am doing my job right, the client won't need me forever, just as my children shouldn't need to live at home forever. I rejoice with the client at their achievements, proud that they have accomplished so much and wish them well on the journey. I remind them that I will continue to be a safe place if they ever need more counseling at another stage in life, just as I will always be a safe place for my children even once they have left the nest.
I certainly see my clients in a different light than I see my children, and have different expectations of them both. I don't see my adult clients as children or patronize or condescend to them, but then again, I don't do that to my own children, so why would I? Just as I believe in raising responsible adults as a parent, I believe in treating my clients as responsible adults. So while there are certainly differences between my adult clients and my own children, my role isn't as vastly different. I guess that is why I find it so easy to transition between the two roles.