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How do counselors deal with the stress?


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How do they do it?


I'm helping out a church friend by taking on a group of three teenagers. All I have to do for an hour is listen to their problems and be supportive...but the catch is that they told me some really heavy stuff tonight that almost made me cry.


One girl told me that her dad almost raped her. She has a restraining order against him but she's scared that he could get custody of her. I had no idea how to react to this. This is just supposed to be a church group where we talk about basic stuff like religion and school and friends and stuff, but she went into her life story. I haven't actually been trained in counseling, but I am really the only qualified person to lead the group because I've taught. I didn't expect this though. I am also supposed to be confidential, so I can't really tell anyone. Of course I can say it here because I am anonymous and I'm not naming names. But how do counselors do it?


Another kid told me he was adopted and he started crying. It turned into a big rap session instead of a church youth group Bible study. I wasn't expecting this at all. I told them they can feel free to share but they should be careful and not say something they don't want to be spread around.


I just feel that the stress could get ugly. I never realized what counselors had to go through. I am glad now that I am not pursing this for a full-time career or I might fall apart. It is very emotional and taxing. I feel sorry for the kids. I admire you counselors out there because you really get everyone's stress put on you and you can't even share it, except maybe on places like thsi!

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I am aiming to be a psychiatrist, and while I'm in no way naive enough to think I'm always going to love it, I do find myself surprisingly suited to the job of "counselor" as it were. I've helped countless friends in life, some easier than others - from molestation victims to just simple love life troubles.


I don't know why, I find it near inexplicable - but my mind does not stack the weight or worries of that person's problems. I see them from an oddly clinical perspective. Like a shell of problem that I'm gently tapping open as I get little chunks to flow into my brain, that then get strictly analysed and deeply examined, which I then give feedback to them about in a term that they can understand. Gah I'm sounding like a big headed chump, but that's just how it is. I have the sympathetic connection emotionally to the PERSON, but their brain I can pick apart and treat neutrally without it causing me to react emotionally. I'm not a cold person, but my brain is like a fax machine or something - takes the jargon signal I get from people spilling their guts in a sea of words, that feeds into my brainmeats which prints out a nice bit of paper I can read and understand deeper.


I hope that makes sense, but basically the idea is - indeed you do have to be able to disconnect yourself emotionally. I hope this doesn't make me sound like a freak!


Edit: I guess I view the brain in different segments - the PERSONAL side, which I can sympathise with. The side they are suffering on. Then I see the COLD side of their mind, the one that's causing all these emotions and suffering. So I focus on that "side" and attack it with analysing and picking apart the route causes of the suffering etc. (Obviously such brain segments are purely the figment of my imaginings, but that sorta puts it on paper for me, mentally, so I know where I stand).

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