I can honestly say I’ve learned so much since beginning my masters degree. Things I’m sure I’ll share more and more here as we move forward. But I thought I’d share a little bit about my residency trip while it’s still fresh in my mind. My trip was back in February and it was a big deal for me in a lot of ways because there were a lot of firsts in it for me… It was my first time spending more than three days away from Ryan; my first time away from Marlee; and the first Valentines day Ryan and I have been apart since we started dating 14 years ago. While it was super challenging – I gained SO much from this experience and I’m so grateful for all the people I got to meet and all I learned!
Because I hate driving in big cities, I opted to take the amtrak up to Chicago. I’m glad I did too because it was when we had that snow storm up north and the roads were terrible. Plus I’m sure I saved quite a bit on parking too. Oh! And it was my first time taking the amtrak so that was a new experience. I actually really enjoyed it because there were a lot of interesting people on the train and it gave me plenty of time to read a book I’d been wanting to read for a while (The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus). I left from Mattoon at 10 am and made it up to Chicago around 2 pm. I had a couple hours to kill before registration so I got settled in my room. After registration, I called Ryan and facetimed with him and Marlee, cried my sad mama tears, and took a long soak in the tub to do a little self care.
The next morning, I was up bright and early to pay my dues for Chi Sigma Iota and to start lectures for the day. We had an opening orientation which was a fantastic start to the event, and then we all separated into our individual classes. One of the great things about our groups was that there was only 15 people in my group so it meant that we were able to engage really well with each other and get really good feedback from our professor, who was amazing! I guess the short version of the event was that every day I get up for breakfast, sit in class from 8 am to 5 pm, go on a run for self care in the evening, facetime with Ryan and Marlee, work on homework, and go to bed. The next morning I’d get up and do it all again.
So the first thing most people as is, “But what did you do?” Well obviously I’m attending classes online, but there are clearly certain aspects of counseling that you can only learn in person… So one of the biggest points of my track 1 residency was to practice the skills we’ve been learning about. We took turns role playing as both client and counselor. This was amazing because I feel like practicing the skills and getting feedback from my professor opened my eyes to more deeply understanding what it means to be a counselor and made me even more proud to be working towards being a part of this profession.
For example, one of the things we learn about are the 3 core values: congruence (being true to oneself), empathic understanding, and unconditional positive regard. When I read about these things I can’t help but feel like this is how Jesus is – he views us with unconditional positive regard. So the idea that my profession encourages me to act more like Jesus – makes me so happy. It’s not an easy task though… obviously. But my eyes were opened to that even more too. I saw this when we practiced working with our trigger client (a client who may be challenging for us to approach). Our professor encouraged us not to choose our most challenging client, but I asked her if it would be okay for me to do so anyway. She agreed and I was grateful she watched my interaction. She helped me to realize that when I try to avoid showing judgement I mean close myself off, and that this can come across in my tone or body language. These are all things that are super important to be aware of as a counselor so that we take good care of our clients.
I’m so glad I got to know so many of my classmates during residency too. We really had an amazing group of people, and it was a joy getting to know them. I had one classmate who lives near to me but the rest came from all over which was kind of cool and I certainly hope we keep in touch! And I got to meet a lot of people in other programs or tracks during our breaks and lunch hours too. That was really neat!
The hotel we stayed in was pretty nice and it had an awesome fitness center! We were encouraged to do something for self care every night – so part of my self care was running, which was nice. I hadn’t really gotten to run since Marlee was born so that was awesome. But I missed my hubby and daughter like no one’s business! I’m so grateful for facetime because we used that every night. Nothing could have made me happier than hearing Ryan’s voice and seeing Marlee light up when she saw my face and heard my voice over the phone! It made me super excited to get back home to them as quickly as I could.
On the Amtrak ride home I finished my second book of the trip, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, which was amazing! Ryan picked me up at the Bloomington Amtrak station and Marlee gave me so many kisses when I got home – it was wonderful!
So yeah – that’s a little glimpse into my trip. I’m including some pictures below and I’m happy to hsare more about it if anyone is curious. I just don’t know what all people would be interested in. But I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my first big step in this program.