I find myself with a very heavy heart since Sunday morning. Although I do not have any family or friends that suffered consequences of the mass shooting in Orlando, I grieve for those who lost their lives, for those who were injured, and for the family and friends of everyone affected. I find myself feeling extra grateful for our first responders and pray that they are always protected. I also find myself thinking more about my identity, as a professional counselor.
Although we constantly talk about professional identity in my classes, during the past few weeks we have been talking a lot about leadership and professional identity in relation to the recent passing of the Senate Bill 1556/House Bill 1840 in Tennessee. On Monday we talked a lot about the mass shooting in Orlando, FL on Sunday. It was an emotional class with great discussion and healthy debate. We also have an amazing professor who is passionate about current events and our professional responsibilities, and she is also respectful and graceful in the way she encourages discussion. I appreciate her so much.
I find myself thinking even more about my identity as a professional counselor and doctoral student preparing to become a counselor educator. We talk a lot about advocacy and the ways we can advocate for our profession and our clients and I admit that I may not advocate by going to the capital, but I definitely advocate for my profession and clients in more subtle ways. My advocacy is also shaped based on what is needed.
Tonight, as part of my continued desire to be an advocate, I attended a vigil in honor of the Orlando victims. I was not expecting the crowd that I saw. It took me 20 minutes to find a park if that puts anything into perspective. It was a humbling experience to attend the vigil, to listen to the stories of others and to be part of such an emotional event. I consider my attendance at the vigil to be advocacy as I was able to stand with others in support during a traumatic time, and stand with them in support of their desire to continue living in unity. Sometimes, the best way to support and empower others, is to show them that you believe in their dreams, goals, and wishes to rise above negativity and, I’m just going to say it: hate.
I thought about how blessed I was to be alive, to experience these moments. I thought about how important it was that as a professional counselor, I show up and support others in time of great need. After all, isn’t that what our profession is about? We are about empowering others to live holistic lives and achieve their full potential. We are about supporting others when they need it, without judgment and criticism. Tonight, I left the vigil with mixed feelings: overwhelmed with pride in everyone that showed up and proud of my ability to show up as a counselor and future counselor educator. I felt hurt and sad because of the reason we had the vigil, and I felt a sense of extra caution because I am aware that we have unhealthy people around us who may not have access to help, or refuse help.
I am proud to say that I am a professional counselor. I am a future counselor educator. I am an ally.
No one deserves to be harmed.
For those of you who are in the helping profession, I encourage you to think about your identity as a professional counselor.
What do you believe in?
Why did you choose this profession?
How are you helping to empower others?
In what ways are you advocating for your profession and clients?
How can you show your support to those in need, even in the smallest ways?