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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And Next Thing You Know…

Time passes so fast, doesn’t it? Have you ever had an “How old am I?” moment? Awhile ago, I had this moment. Imagine my surprise when I found out (after counting on my fingers and calling mom just to be sure!) that I am a year older than what I thought I was! I felt jipped! hahah Truth is, I completely forgot the events of last year’s birthday because life was just spinning so fast. I literally had to sit down and think back through the months to jog my memory of how we celebrated so I could stop (jokingly) telling my family that they must have knocked me out over my birthday week to avoid having to get me a gift! hahah πŸ™‚Β  I remember when I was about 10 years old and I was making my mom a birthday card; I asked her how old she was going to be and she couldn’t remember.Β  As a child, that was ludicrous to me! How could you not know?!?!

I get it now, mom. I get it. ❀

It happens to most all of us at sometime or another. One minute we’re going along, doing our thing and the next, we realizeΒ  that like a pack mule, we have taken on too much. That’s usually when we forget things like how old we are. πŸ˜‰ For me, that was a reminder to back it up and slow it down. Because I for one would like to remember all of my birthdays. πŸ˜‰

Ever heard of the Oola Guys? Oola basically means living your life in a state of awesomeoness. It was created by two doctors who realized the importance of balance but also realize how ridiculously hard it can be to achieve. I was at a conference where they were speaking a few years ago, and they compared life to the constant spinning of plates. The visual being that each of us has all these different areas of our lives (plates) that we are responsible to keep in motion (spinning) and as more and more plates get added, the more other plates fall, drop, break and stop spinning. Because we can only do so much. That is so hard for many of us to accept, isn’t it? So many of us like to think we can – or feel like we have to – do everything. Always. For everyone. And the fact of the matter is, it is just not possible. What usually ends up happening is we start with spinning a plate on each hand, then each arm, then we try to add a few to our head and surely our knees can “hackey sack” a few, right? It does not take much time in this Twister game position to completely and utterly exhaust our bodies and our plates- all our beautiful plates, begin to break. And suddenly, there we are, frantically trying to save the plates. And sometimes we do save a few. But then our bodies collapse. We are trying to save the plates that are falling and keep the plates that are balanced on us spinning and oh, hello there mental break down, what are you doing here?

Did you read about the people in the news who were waiting in line at a buffet for the crab legs to come out. It took about 10 minutes for them to arrive and by that point, two people were fighting over the crab legs and hitting each other with the tongs. Let me say that again: Hitting each other with the TONGS.

Hello mental break down.

So what do we do? How do we keep ourselves from being the ones that are getting arrested for fighting over crab legs or freaking out over not getting extra ketchup at a takeout? (I can hear you saying, ‘pssh, that will never be me….’ Well, I am sure the crabbies didn’t get up that morning and say to themselves, “I am so overwhelmed- that’s it. I am totally going to hit someone over the head with tongs today.”)

Serenity is multi-faceted, but one important- very important thing is balance. Say it with me while taking a deep breath (yes, you DO have time for that!). BAAAAAALLLLLAAAAAAANNNNNCCCCEEEEEEE. The Oola Guys have broken down areas of balance into 7 categories, which they call the seven F’s. They are:

*Faith * Family * Friends * Finance *Β  Field (career) * Fitness * Fun *Β 

They encourage everyone to write down realistic goals for each of these areas of your life and then work on keeping these seven areas balanced. If one of these areas is stacked with too many things, the other areas are going to be shaking, quaking and before you know it, toppling. (For goal setting help, Google the acronym SMART goals.)

If you feel like your plates are taking on a life of their own and you would like some help sorting through the chaos and getting yourself back to a comfortable place of balance, give me a call or text at (540) 765-7881 to schedule a session. It is time to get you back to a state of awesomeness.

❀

Bobbie-jo Hurt LPC, CSAC

Hurt Counseling Center

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Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

 

 

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

The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva: The Prequel.

Whenever I do an introduction of myself for a bio or a class, I always mention that I am also a mental health therapist. Then as Autumn was beginning to come to a close, I did a show on WSLS10 that I thought was imperative to get the information out: Getting help for depression. (Oh how I wish people could know how much better they could feel!!)

This blog could be titled, “The DIY Diva Starts her own Counseling Business” but it sounds a little long and boring. I don’t do boring; automatically puts me in nap mode πŸ™‚

Here’s the scoop: I AM opening my own practice. I HAVE been working as a therapist the entire time I have been The Mason-Dixon DIY Diva. I LOVE helping people empower themselves. Love it. Am I still the DIY Diva? YES. Am I still a Therapist? YES. Nothing has changed… except I am opening my own practice πŸ™‚ So… that is actually pretty exciting. Being a DIY Diva and doing a TV show is something I never envisioned that I would do- not even in my wildest dreams. Nope, not even then. And all those years ago when I was pursing my degrees, certifications, licensures, etc., I always said I didn’t want my own practice. (It is easier to work at someone else’s! LOL!) But here I am, with these doors swinging open, and I feel no fear for moving forward, only excitement to see where God takes this. I am along for the ride! πŸ™‚

Hurt Counseling Center is the name of the new practice. My husband and I met in graduate school and he too has his degree in Professional Counseling, along with being a Certified Life Coach. He is in this venture with me and will be available for appointments as well. (And we may or may not have a few more fun surprises up our sleeve this year!)

We are officially opening our doors January 2nd, 2019, so now is the time to call or text for an appointment (540) 765-7881. My new office is located at: 402 Hershberger Road Roanoke VA. Below is a picture.

I specialize in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship issues, though I have worked with most all mental health and co-occurring disorders. There is no shame to mental health. We don’t shame someone for diabetes or cancer, so why in the world would we do that for depression, anxiety, addiction, etc.? Our bodies need support. Our brains need support. The sooner we can accept this, the sooner we can get people finding out how much better they can feel. Did you know that you don’t have to live your life feeling blah, nonstop stressed, or miserable? Most people are so used to feeling crappy that they don’t even know there are alternatives to feeling how they do. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, have thoughts that go-go-go and don’t seem to stop, feel completely lethargic, exhausted and don’t feel like you have the energy to do what you need to, or if you keep doing the same thing that you don’t want to be doing over and over and over and…. maybe you should come see me. From someone who is constantly working on becoming a better, healthier version of herself, I can honestly say that peace of mind and relief from all the mental pressure we put on ourselves is priceless. Healthy physical and mental health is immeasurable in a numerical value. I don’t know about you, but these are two areas I “spare no expense” in because they are the cornerstone to all we do.

I want counseling to be accessible to each and every brave person who is willing to come in and admit that things are not perfect and perhaps feeling a little stuck, down, overwhelmed, etc.. If you want to feel better, well, as they say on the Price is Right, “Come on down!” πŸ™‚

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