I recently had a weird epiphany that I can’t believe I’ve never had before. Each week I go to the same place to be a counsellor, and I was trying to figure out why I always feel so out of place there.
As a rule my confidence sits at a safe but low place. I constantly question myself and struggle to declare, “this thing that I’ve done/made/said is good.” I think it’s useful as a counsellor to be self-critical, and constantly reevaluate the process. But recently it’s verged on being a hindrance. Not only with clients, but in my day to day life.
I was at home going through some paperwork when I spotted my portfolio. It’s just an A4 folder with some papers inside, which I originally bought for carrying around notes and information that might come in handy. When I bought it, I decided it was a ‘proper counsellor thing’ to have. I had this idea that I would use it when I was a real counsellor. Not in training, or practicing, or a newbie. I’ve been counselling for three years now. I am a counsellor. I picked up the stupid folio and it occurred to me that it wasn’t an entirely useful piece of stationery.
But, I thought, I am a counsellor. A real one. And maybe it’s time to …use the folio?
I smushed together a load of my paper work and tucked it inside the folio. I looked at it and suddenly realised that this folder was a weird manifestation of the arbitrary limitation I had been putting on myself. “I don’t count, yet. I will soon. I just need to get more experience/get the certificate/be recognised by colleagues/feel better about myself.”
No matter how many small goals I’ve achieved, I’ve still not actually declared myself a counsellor. I looked at my social media bios, and in all of them it says ‘trainee’ or ‘into mental health’ — not one actually says ‘Rosie Burns, Counsellor.’
So I changed that. And I’m using the portfolio to carry things around. And I’m trying, with all my might, to refer to myself as a counsellor, not as a trainee, a student, or somebody who’s lost and caught between jobs.
Last week I packed my folio in my bag, with an A4 notepad and some documents stashed inside. I felt so proud as I walked towards the front door to leave. I declared to my husband, “I have the folio! Because I am a counsellor!”
Anyway the damn thing is too heavy to carry all the way there on the bus and back, so I left it on the kitchen table and purchased a small A6 notepad, instead. The point is, my name is Rosie, and I am a fully trained counsellor. And if I wanted to carry the folio around, I totally could.