Pulling Back the Curtains: An Inside Look at What Really Happens Inside the Counseling Office

Today I was at the doctor’s office and I was asked by the doctor, who was making small talk, what I had planned for the rest of the day. The doctor knows that I am a counselor and I replied that I have clients for the rest of the day. Now maybe the doctor said this because of the physical pain I was in but the next comment was, “So will there be a lot of ‘hmm’ , ‘ahh’ and ‘uh-huh’s’ today? I laughed and told the doctor that for me to treat a client like that would be the equivalent of him having a patient walk in, high-five ’em and send them back out the door. He wouldn’t have any clients if he only gave out high-fives and neither would I if I only made sympathetic sounds. Goodness. Do you think we do 8 years of University and 2-4 years of Residency just so we can make noises? πŸ™‚ (I could do that without all the training- call me skilled πŸ˜‰ lol).

The event at the doctor’s office reminded me of a meme. And like all the best memes it was from the TV show The Office. In this meme (below), Stanley imitates what he thinks a counselor does and what a counselor makes; both of which are laughable. In fact, even I bust up laughing at most counseling memes … because they’re funny. Enjoy them, laugh, but please, please do not think they are accurate.

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Do we make sympathetic sounds? Sure, if that’s what you want to call it. πŸ™‚Β  I call it communicating and letting the other person know that you hear them, you understand what they’re saying and you care. Have I heard stories from the Crypt about counselor out there who only stare at their clients and if you’re lucky they’ll make a noise? Yes, I have. However, most of us counselors do not fit in that category. Please, keep “shopping” for the counselor who is a good fit for you – it is life-changing to say the least.

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I am so grateful for my career. It feels like a perfect fit – like the way we all would like our outfits to feel- “right” and comfortable with the elements of style that makes you YOU. Though Stanely likes the idea of an air conditioned office downtown where you sit and judge people, that is not the case.

Fact: I do sit in a chair

Fact: I do have an office that I love and feels like a cozy “second home” to me (and hopefully to you too, should you stop by πŸ™‚ )

Fact: I do have some seriously great air conditioning for summer and heating units for winter

Fact: It is not a physically demanding job. We don’t get “body tired” (except for discomfort if we sit too long- gotta get some laps around the building here and there to keep the blood flowing πŸ™‚ )

Fact: It IS an emotionally demanding job.

Counseling is a career that takes every ounce of who you are into the room with you. Literally. We must take good care of ourselves throughout our everyday lives in order to be able to fully focus on you and your needs. We put every ounce of US into being present with you.

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Fact: WE NEVER JUDGE. This is such a true statement. Another true statement is that I did not laugh with this meme because to me it is sad that someone, somewhere got that idea that this is what we do. 😦  When someone is pouring out their heart, their fears, the things they are scared to tell others, the very crevices of their soul that even they are afraid to look at, I can honestly tell you, judgment doesn’t come to my mind. It is such a privilege when someone trusts us with who they truly are. I cherish, respect and protect that vulnerability. I am honored by someone’s willingness to share, because I know it’s not easy.

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Do you remember when the style of meme above was trending on social media? I found it interesting because there are so many misconceptions from field to field of what we actually do. Even the counseling meme doesn’t match my opinion of what I think I do, and it’s supposed to shed some semblance of light onto this career path! πŸ™‚

Here are the top 10 things that I do in a day at the office:

  1. I form relationships. When people walk into my office, they’re not “one more patient”, they’re not a task to check off or a “disorder” to cure, they’re PEOPLE. And I’m people. And we relate. We talk. We laugh, we cry.
  2. I learn about you. I find out through comfortable conversation what brings you in, what you would like to have change in your life, what your struggles are and what your successes are. What makes you smile brightest? What makes you angry? Learning about you helps me help you. My goal is not to change you to what “I think you should be” (you live your life, not me – and remember, we’re not there to judge). My goal is to learn what you want for yourself, your relationships, your career, your mental health, etc.
  3. I listen. Most of us in the world listen to respond, not listen to hear but wow does it change things when you experience the feeling that someone hears you- someone sees you. And they care. On paper, these are words. In the counseling office, this breathes healing and new life.
  4. I take what I learn and conversationally draw the picture of what I heard as if displayingΒ  it on a white board for the person to step back and look at from an objective vantage point. This tends to bring a lot of clarity as “we can’t see the forest through the trees.” This can induce many “aha” moments (they’re the best, aren’t they? πŸ™‚ ) A lot of times, our friends and family mean well, but they are stuck in the trees with us and often times cannot clearly get a bird’s eye view of the forest either. It is emotional blinders that keep our friends and family from thinking clearly and that is very normal. When we are too close to a situation, we are sometimes absorbed into it, which brings me to the next thing I do.
  5. #5 is kind of like when you feel all emotional and you talk but you feel like you’re making no sense at all and feel almost tongue tied, as if you cannot get the words out so you groan and put your head in your hands in frustration. Then you you look up, wondering if the person you talked to understood anything you just said… AND THEY DID! They “get it”! Not only do they get it but they help you find the words to express the emotions that are all tangled up inside you. Ahh, that feels good. Just think of counselors your emotional constipation relief. πŸ™‚
  6. Back to that white board: Since I am not you, and you are not me, and I am not part of your family, chances are that I am going to have some different insights into the situation to share and perhaps lay some things on the white board that you didn’t notice before thanks to the “forest through the trees” phenomenon. Suddenly you’re not feeling so dang stuck, right? Look at all these things I didn’t even realize were there, you may think. Wow, I have more options than I initially thought... Hey, I don’t have to stay tangled up in this tree! (back to the forest analogy) your brain may shout!
  7. So now you are feeling more empowered, excited and stronger than you were when you walked in 45 minutes ago. You may realize that when you let go of that emotional constipation, you feel so much less pain! Great!! So… now what? You have options, you know you’re not stuck, you’re excited …. but how do I go back home and live this out, Bobbie-jo?
  8. I’m glad you asked πŸ˜‰ lol. This is the part where us counselors show you a way to take everything you have gathered today and use it to start the process of moving from where you are to where you want to be. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to go from taking a walk to being the next American Ninja Warrior by the next session. We always work with you where you’re at – it’s not until session 2 that we expect you to be Ninja Warrior material (totally kidding πŸ™‚ ).
  9. Life is always lived one moment, one step at a time and not one second or movement sooner. Well, so is healing and recovery. We take one step at a time. Perhaps that sounds meager but I assure you it is not!
  10. Trust the process. This one always makes me smile to write because I have always been a GOAL! person. Process? Yaaaaaaawn. πŸ™‚ But guess what I have learned about life? Life is Lived in the Process. The goal is the direction, but life is the process. When you’re stuck in the trees and you have someone (your counselor) saying, “This is what the forest looks like. I know you’re struggling to see it right now and I get that. I can show you the way to get yourself out but there are going to be times when it’s dark and you can’t see. You will need to listen to my voice as I show you where the next step is. But you have to take the step; I can’t take it for you. I’m right here and I am going to walk with you through this. Yes, counseling requires a trusting relationship, which is why us counselors are to uphold high levels of personal and professional ethics.

We will cheer you on andΒ  encourage you every step of the way. And when you are in the process of “becoming” as the Velveteen Rabbit says, you can fully step into who you are. Counselors don’t “fix” you. Counselors show you how to find and “follow the yellow brick road” that you’re looking for. But you must walk it. We cannot do it for you. We will walk along side you throughout the entire process.

And when you feel empowered, confident, healed and whole again, when you enjoy life and feel free, you may think we did something extraordinary and that we really do have a “magic wand”. But we will simply smile and say to you, “You’ve always had the power [my dear], you just had to learn it for yourself.”

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Life’s Best Laid Plans…

I read something today that I kept thinking about with a little smile, so I put it together as a quote (because I was born in the days of notebooks and journals) and then made a meme (because hello, it’s 2018 and that’s what we do!). Basically, I wrote that when life doesn’t go the way you planned, throw your hands up and yell “PLOT TWIST” and then move on, making the most of the next ‘scene.’

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Is life a movie? Uh, no (but if it was, I’d pick a Hallmark Christmas movie house!). But a lot can be learned from that saying. For me anyway. And maybe for you? When I find myself feeling stressed, it is usually because I don’t want to accept the way things are happening. My control button is shaking and I want things to be the way I want them to be! So something I am always remembering, working on, and (usually! lol!) making progress on is practicing acceptance.

Imagine if you could accept life the way it happened and then you could work with what you have in front of you, or even make more opportunities to enhance what life has put before you… but what if you just… accepted it.wordswag_1509634030284.png

When I was in graduate school, I took a personality and career assessment in our “Career Counseling” course. While all the other students in the counseling room were getting nice, docile, therapist-y results, “You should be a counselor who wears outdated clothes and big, square glasses” … My results, however, stand out in my mind as rather unforgettable because I was the only one who didn’t get something like that.

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Want to know what mine was? Elvis. Yup, it turns out Elvis and I have the same exact personality style (and the same good looks πŸ˜‰ ). I can’t remember all of the career suggestions because only one had anything to do with therapy. But I remember the first suggestion for my life’s work: To be a Cruise Line Director. (Can you even follow that up with another statement?) The other option I remember- because it actually had something to do with counseling- was to be an art therapist.

The cool thing was that my leadership skills, creativity and entertainment abilities came through strong. So with my Elvis personality, I took in the advice and did what I knew was my fit; I became a therapist- a really awesome, really real, interactive, introspective and fun therapist (and humble too, so humble hahah). You know, I say those things about my counseling but honestly it is not in a “full of myself” kind of way. I just know the depths of where I’ve been in life. And I know how great it is to live your life in ways you sort of maybe dared to dream but never thought possible!

I know that in every situation I went through in life, I always had 3 choices: Give in, give up or give it all you’ve got! I chose to do the hard but beautiful work of healing (because you can live in- and get used to- misery, if you want…) and God used it to equip me to be there for others; to help them find healing, freedom and empowerment too. And because of who I am, Little Ms. Elvis, I am real and fun. And it would be fair to say that I get extra-creative in my sessions as needed πŸ™‚

I love what I do; it is so normal for my clients and I to burstΒ  into laughter in the same session where we share heart-felt tears. I love watching my clients heal, to realize how worthwhile they are, to figure out what to do with all their emotions (which for most people, is one of the scariest words ever!) and to go after what they truly want in life- instead of doing what they think they “have” to do. FREEDOM! I love freedom. And seeing people grow in confidence; their posture changes, their voice tone changes and they are no longer scared to live life. EMPOWERED to live freely without stress, perfectionistic, people-pleasing, “have to”, “need to” and “shoulds” running through their minds. I love seeing relationships being restored back to health. I love it. I care for each and every client that walks through my door and I want the best for them. I can’t make anyone do the work of healing. I can’t make anyone put into action the desire of wanting more for their lives. But I can sit with them in their pain, walk with them through their healing and rejoice with them when they are where they want to be.

Want to know something kind of funny? Most everyone in that class who got the “typical counselor” career results… are not counselors. Turns out it wasn’t for them. Kind of ironic, huh?

And then there’s Elvis over here… who begins teaching natural classes because I found something real and amazing that has helped me and my family heal time and time again. And I want people to know about it. Not fall for gimmicks or lies, but to know the truth. But just like counseling, I can’t make anyone want to invest in themselves to feel better. I can only sit with them in their pain, walk with them through their healing and rejoice with them when they are where they want to be.

Now with this Elvis personality, you would think doing this TV show would have had me shaking my groove thang on national television or maybe hosting this year’s 2019 ball drop or something,Β but alas, my life is quite similar to where it was 2 years ago before I started doing the TV show, except I made a lot of wonderful friends and had a blast doing something I never even considered doing in my life!

I do not have plans to renew my contract but you never know if I pop in here or there just because I miss y’all. πŸ™‚ I gave the Scouts almost 2 years to find me and make me a Super Star. if they’re that slow on their game, I may not want to contract with them anyway πŸ˜‰Β  Maybe I just need some blue suede shoes? Do you think that would help? πŸ™‚

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So… why in the world am I talking about all this? Eh, I don’t know. (Just kidding, though I do enjoy a good tangent … ).

I truly enjoy doing DIY. I don’t know if I ever want to do a big, DIY teaching class again. Who knows but right now, I do know that I am not through that place in the grief process of my close friend and DIY partner whom I met when she was an attendee at the very first class that I taught.

I do know that I am up to doing get togethers with a few of us friends making some natural DIY and sharing laughs and fun over coffee.Β  I want cozy and comfortable, where it feels like sitting on your best friend’s couch and shooting the breeze. Casual with some structure (so we can make our stuff lol) πŸ™‚ My next one of these DIY gatherings is going to be January 26th at 11am. If you would like to attend, I would love to have you! Since the classes are smaller, just comment or message me and I will fill it up, first come, first serve. If this one fills before you get in, you will be the first one on the invite list for my next friend Diva dates! lol πŸ™‚

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Oh, did I tell you that tomorrow is my last TV show? Sorry, it’s 1:30am, I’ve been travelling all day and though the family and I had a fabulous week, I feel like I could sleep for … awhile. πŸ™‚ Anyway, watch it, okay? And tell the Scouts that this is their last chance to snag up Little Ms. Elvis because like all good things, I’m going, going, going, gone- and booking up fast for the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop! hahah

Love you guys. I’m not going anywhere, I just don’t feel that I should continue on with the TV show right now. I will still be doing classes, and providing natural support while posting who-knows-what to my page and my cool, new Etsy Shop. I have a new recipe book in there! And the Christmas Gift Making one! And if you all show meΒ  that you love those, I will make you more! Go to http://www.etsy.com and the search bar “BobbiejoDIYDiva”

Oh! And I am opening my new counseling center (FB: Hurt Counseling Center) on Jan. 2ne (so once again to do that Ball drop… they really gotta be on their GAAAAME!) Look me up and please tell friends and family in need. I am doing sliding scale fees only so I hope to help many that may not be able for afford full fee- though it is 100% worth it for a peaceful state of mind, I understand that money… well, it does kind of grow on trees… but … it is still a tight commodity for most of us!!

I specialize in depression, anxiety, depression and relationships. I have worked with most all mental heath and co-occurring disorders though. I work predominately with adults and teens.

Stay in touch!

❀ Bobbie-jo Hurt, The One, The Only, Mason-Dixon DIY Diva, (side by side with my personality twin Elvis… which explains why I would rather go on Live TV in my jammies than fold my laundry… :))20768117_654792388062401_6344075442393846063_n

Life is Short

This is not the post I intended to write. I was going to jump on here and give you some Diva updates. But there is something else that came to me as I began to write and I know I must share this with you. (And you can edit this in your head if you want, my friends, but I do not have time right now to do so and I want to get this information out ASAP πŸ™‚ )

I have had some heavy past few months. As you know from being a part of my life, a very close friend of mine is in her last days of life. She hasn’t even reached the age of 60 but it looks like her time is coming, whether I like it or not. We have spent the past months making big end-of-life decisions together and holding each other’s hands with our heads together sobbing, knowing that when she went off to Texas to an Assisted Living facility near her only family, that everything was our “last” together. The last hug was the hardest. For a short while after her move, she was able to send me a few lines via the internet here and there on how things were going but she was so exhausted that it would drain her. We knew we had to move her soon before she didn’t have it in her to physically ride across the country. It is so hard helplessly seeing the physical break down of her body. Her last message to me was that she finally gave in and allowed Hospice to come (my tough warrior was holding off until the very last minute and has been turning them down for a few months already). I called her the other day and knew it took everything in her to answer. It broke my heart to even smaller pieces, hearing her weak voice and her laughs at my silly life antics. The Evil has gotten into her brain again and she is having difficulty communicating. Her brother has been keeping me updated at this point. The thought is that she will not be seeing next month. Lord, help me. I am shaking and can barely see the screen through my tears.

Then I had another surprise. My niece who is 18 came over the other night, so excited to tell me about her first date. She was showing me the cute messages they were sending back and forth via FB messenger, etc. and we were pondering those fun teenage jitter questions like, “Is this a date?” …”Will he try to hold my hand… or kiss me?!”… “Will he buy the tickets?”… “Will we get our own popcorn or share one?” Her adorable excitement about this cute boy who likes her and thinks she’s awesome was creating those fun butterflies in her stomach that we all remember from days gone by.

This conversation got me to thinking about who I was dating at 18. Back in those days, we communicated by phone (GASP!), e-mail, or by making plans to get online (dial up) at the same time so we could talk on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). πŸ™‚ I still have my very first email address that my dad set up for me when I was 15 and I don’t delete anything from my email, because… what a waste of time πŸ™‚Β  (I know, some of you are cringing right now. Sorry my Type A friends, love ya!).

I pulled up some emails from a boy I went out with when I was her age, and read her a few of our “flutter” messages such as him saying, “I miss you sooooooo much. T-7 hours [until we saw each other again] TTYL hun” … “Hey Shawty, I can’t wait to see you. In school today we ….” etc. etc. I bought a car while we were dating and named it after one of the things he would say to me, that I was “The Shizzle to his Nizzle.” (What does that even mean? LOL. Who cares! In 18 year old world, it was goose bumps!) I named my car Shizzle. Maybe it had something to do with his favorite candy being Skittles? haha who knows πŸ™‚

After my niece went home and my own cute memories of innocence and excitement were flying back to me at rapid pace, I began to wonder what he was up to today. We hadn’t talked or even seen each other since we were 18. So of course I do what we do in today’s world: I typed his name into the FB search bar. The only thing that came up with his description was an obituary someone posted in 2012.Β No way, I thought, that can’t be him. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I opened the page. There was his picture right on top of the obituary. All the information listed matched that boy that I had many fond childhood memories with. We were the same age. But he died at age 25. 25!!! I reached out to some people that were mutual friends of ours (and set us up). I find out from his past best friend what happened as the pit in my stomach grows deeper. He took his own life.

I just sat there crying, with these ridiculous thoughts of wishing I could have done something; wishing I could have “fixed” someone I haven’t seen or talked to in 15 years.Β  As if we can help anyone who doesn’t reach out for it (and I have no idea on those details when it comes to him).

I have felt so blessed these past 10+ years of being in the counseling field, having the opportunity to help people find a way out of the dark by walking beside them in the deep pits of pain and hearing them- really hearing them. And showing them a process of how to get out of the pitch dark woods. My heart bursts every time I see another person in my office find healing, freedom, empowerment, peace in their minds and excitement for life again.

Sometimes I wish life could be more often like a Hallmark movie, you know? Here’s what my 18 year old boyfriend’s story would have looked like if I could rewrite it. We would be walking down the street and randomly run into each other. We would begin catching up and I would be able to pick up on his emotional state and would point him in the direction of help. And of course he would take the help with little resistance because it’s the Hallmark channel. He would find healing in the core of his being and from all the pain inside. He would be truly happy. He would marry a cute “girl next door” type that was sweet and kind. They would start Christmas morning by having an adorable, fluffy puppy with a red bow on, playing excitedly between the happy couple, while they sat in front of the tree, with their hand entwined, a look of love and contentment on their faces. And when we passed each other on the street, we would give each other a wave and a big, genuine smile because we both found true happiness in our lives.

In our Western world 1 out of every 4 people have depression or anxiety (and the other 3 are lying πŸ™‚ ). But we put this stigma on it such as, we just need to be “strong enough….” HOG WASH! We need to have the courage (and it takes a lot to admit we need help!!!) to reach out and get our butts in counseling with a great therapist!

No one would EVER tell a diabetic that depends on insulin for their life survival that if only they were “strong enough” or just “shook it off” they wouldn’t need that medication… BULL HOGIE!!

We don’t tell Cancer patients that if they just tried harder …. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?

Mental illness is just as real as diabetes, cancer, broken bones and autoimmune disorders. And guess what? They are just as catastrophic because we receive the message that “just need to be stronger”… or that getting help is for the weak and getting help for this area of our lives is embarrassing… psssh, we women let doctors stick tools up our vaginas and men let doctors do the “cough and grab” on their gentlemen bits. And don’t even get me started on Colonoscopies… yes, if you can do those things, you can come TALK to someone about what’s going on emotionally.

Mental illness is just as debilitating as physical illness, just in other torturous ways. And the saddest part of all? They can both end in premature death. Pretending we have it all together, you know what that is? A death sentence. Get help. I don’t care if it is for a lump you want to pretend isn’t there of a feeling of hopelessness that you tell yourself is normal. Yeah, right.

My heart reaches out to you in this last statement: Get help. There are hotlines everywhere that can be found with a quick google search on your phone. Just call a random counselor. Or you know what? Just show up at the ER. Or a counseling office. I don’t care. JUST. GET. HELP. And don’t accept NO for an answer. If the person you turn to doesn’t have the expertise to realize what’s going on, don’t minimize what is happening inside. Go to the next professional.

You all know that my office is in Roanoke. I’m real, I’m fun and I’ve been through a lot so I may just be able understand more than you might initially think. I would be honored if you would let me walk with you down this dark road and travel together to happier times. Trust that it can get better. BECAUSE IT CAN.

Here is my office number 1-434-237-2655. It is a Lynchburg number but I am based in downtown Roanoke. And it doesn’t have to me that you see. I just want you to reach out to someone and don’t stop reaching out until you get what the help you need. You’re worth it.

Love and Hugs,

Bobbie-jo Hurt, The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva & Mental Health and Addictions Therapist, who truly, sincerely, cares about you.

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Ask For the Ancient Paths; Ask Where the Good Way Is…

My niece once told me… “You’re so old that your Bible is an autographed copy!” Well played, dear one, well played… Though I may not be *that* old, I am old enough to know that there is something about the past. Neglect looking at it, and you may fall flat on your face as you run into the future rather blindly. My husband has a rule of thumb that if someone is over 60, he needs to listen carefully to what they share-because they “probably” know something about life that the younger generation does not. I happen to agree.

So tomorrow we are digging into the ancient of days to learn what they knew about life and see if there is anything that we can apply to our lives now.Β This is a fascinating class and I am excited to jump into the early days with you and extract natural methods that can still benefit us today!

Here is the link but I do limit class sizes, so don’t hesitate and see what you “feel” like doing tomorrow- just come and know you’re not going to regret it πŸ˜‰ We always have a great time!

❀ Bobbie-jo

 

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https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-healing-art-of-ancient-scripture-tickets-40810785157?aff=efbeventtix

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