Beyond Room 119

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Call me crazy, but..

..I just had fun taking a final exam. Yep, you heard me right. Well, when you have a question like this, how could you not enjoy it?

Write the first paragraph for a book titled COUNSELING IN A CHANGING WORLD.  Make sure your paragraph stimulates excitement and interest in the rest of the book. Then, list 5 chapters or topics you would include in the book. For example, topics the reader would find in the “Table of Contents” page of the book.”

Since I just took an exam as a student, I get to play teacher now. Here’s a question for you: Why did I enjoy it so much? Choose wisely, my friends. The answer is a difficult one.

a) I find the field of counseling absolutely fascinating, and so applicable to nearly every aspect of life.

b) I love connecting the dots. A question like, “What are the central differences between Adlerian therapy and CBT?” is boring. Anyone can answer that, and all (correct) answers will be the same. I can guarantee you that even if the entire country responded to the prompt above, no two responses would be the same.

c) I love to be creative. I forget that sometimes. I tend to think of creativity as being connected to painting, to music, to the visual arts, and I forget that words, while used for utilitarian purposes every day, have the power to form worlds, forge relationships, construct people, and create love. And even when I do remember that, sometimes I doubt my ability to wield that power.

d) A and C, but not B. (Didn’t you hate when teachers made choices like this? Yeah, me too. Deal with it.)

e) A, B, and C.

I’ll let you agonize over the answer. And as you do that, in case you’re wondering what I’m going to do with my time now that I’ve finished this class, the answer is simple. I’m going to finish the book that I started tonight.


Counseling in a Changing World

The year is 1903. The first two-way overseas wireless communication has just been successfully transmitted. Only the year before, the first movie theater in the world had opened in Los Angeles, bringing action, adventure, and romance to the big screen. The American League had only recently finished its first year of competition, bringing teams like the White Sox and the Orioles to national headlines.

Fast forward a mere 112 years. Nearly a billion television sets are in homes across the globe. Over six billion cell phones are currently active in the world. In industrialized nations, paper currency has nearly become a thing of the past, replaced by plastic cards and electronic bitcoin.

It would be impossible to document every single change that has happened over the last century. One of the easier changes to identify, however, comes from a field that barely existed at the turn of the twentieth century and has since grown dramatically: counseling. What began as a small movement meant to provide moral instruction and career guidance has since proliferated into a vibrant field, full of exciting theories, rich research, and stunning implications. While the history of counseling is fascinating, it is the way in which counseling must adapt to the ever changing world today that provides opportunities for constant growth and change for those in the field. For those who are ready to accept the challenge of navigating these tumultuous waters, this book is meant to serve as a resource. To quote an illustrious television character, “Come on, ¡vámonos!”


Partial table of contents (subtitles of chapters in parentheses):

  1. Why bother? (Why counseling is still needed in the world today)
  2. You go to counseling? Oh. (How preconceptions of counseling have evolved throughout the years and misconceptions that affect the field today)
  3. More than just a tissue and a listening ear (Common counseling theories)
  4. Is counseling tech savvy? (The interplay between counseling and technology over the years)
  5. Where do we go from here? (Implications of current research on future counseling trends and where the field may go)


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Wibbly wobbly timey wimey

If you had “enough” money, “enough” love, “enough” time, what would you do differently? Would you share more openly, freely, equitably?

(from Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh)

We’ve all been asked those types of questions, meant to provoke thought and catalyze change in our lives. If you had no fear, what would you do? If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you spend that time instead? If you won some fantastical amount of money, how would you change your life?

These questions try to identify something that stops us from living our lives the way we want to. They then pose new questions: If those obstacles somehow disappeared, what would we change? And then the real question becomes, why aren’t we changing that now?

I’m pretty happy with the life I have right now. Sure, there are things I would like to change, but I think that’s one of the points of life – to be always working on ourselves and who we are in relation to the world around us. But on a day-to-day basis, I’m a happy camper. So while these types of questions make me think (which makes them an automatic win, in my book), they have never been a cause for drastic action.

And then I read that phrase. Enough time. If I had enough time, what would I do differently? Let’s be honest. None of us have enough time to do what we want. What we’d like. Which is funny when you think about it. What do seconds, minutes, and hours mean? What do they represent? Why do we choose to measure our lives in this way? But oh, I fall victim to this more often than a firefly blinks.

I always have that mental schedule in my head. So after work today, I’ll go on a run. And then I’ll make dinner. And then water my plants. Oh, and I should probably fold my laundry. And by the time I do all that and clean up dinner, I’ll have, oh say forty minutes to work on stuff for school before winding down and then going to bed at x o’clock. Perfect. That’s the schedule. And when something happens to throw that off – someone calls me right as I get home, a roommate starts chatting, whatever it may be – sure, I’ll go off schedule. I value people, and I value relationships. But oh man, sometimes it’s a struggle to align my perspective. The mental chatter seems to pick right back up again. Hmm, this is going to be a while. So let’s see…if that pushes my run back, I can cut it short. But it was a long day and I really just need to get out there, so I don’t want to do that. Or I could just work on school stuff tomorrow night instead, but oh wait, tomorrow I’m hanging out with that person, and then the next night is that event, and then it’s Friday night, which is busy, and this is due the day after, so umm, dude…maybe you can cut this short?

Terrible. I know. And while those thoughts don’t translate into action, they still stop me from being fully present with that person, at least until I’m able to turn them off. So if I had enough time, what would I do differently? Maybe that voice wouldn’t be there, bothering me when the schedule gets off kilter. Maybe I’d reach out to others more. Maybe I’d take more time for myself, to read more or to write more regularly. All of these are valid, and wonderful things.

But would that make my life more meaningful?

Truthfully, I don’t think so.

The transience of time is what makes it so beautiful. It’s why we stop to appreciate the sunset or the perfect bloom of a rose. Neither one lasts. Because of this, when we do notice it, we pay attention. We know it won’t be there the next time we turn around. Unlimited time would eliminate the need to appreciate it or to make the most of each moment. Simply put, things are made precious because of their rarity. Just look at the price of diamonds or gold. The same concept applies to time. When I do take the time to write, I appreciate it that much more because I had to make it a priority. I had to truly want to do it, or I would have done something else instead. Action indicates priority, and the outlines of our lives are filled in with the vibrant results of those priorities.

Though unlimited time sounds nice, I think it would have the King Midas effect. Instead, we need to choose what we want to do with the time we’re given – and more importantly, to act accordingly, without letting the insignificant details and complications detract from that. Easier said than done? You bet. But if life were easy, it’d be called kindergarten. And nap time aside, real life is so much better than kindergarten.