Approaching counseling can look different for every counselor. Here is how I view my approach to interacting with those I work to help.
Over the past eight weeks I have been working as the Summer Program/Waterfront/Worship Director at Vanderkamp Christian Summer Camp and Retreat Center. In this role I have learned and experienced first hand how psychological and counseling theory is put into practice when developing camp philosophy. A lot of summer camps have the belief that if there is a focus on the developmental ages and that if you are focused around skill development like building fires, etc. that they have the best programming.
The question I have for them is: What life skills are your campers learning?
At Vanderkamp by focusing on self determination, empathy, and creativity the staff have been able to create an environment where the children are able to have input into the schedule, choose their own activities, have creative unstructured time, and most importantly learn how to communicate efficiently to build a caring and positive community. The challenge comes at having the appropriate number of staff members that are able to pour out their souls into the community by showing unconditional love, compassion, and most importantly guidance for the campers that come to camp. This is where helping empower campers allows them to have buy in into the mission of the camp along with any volunteers that share the mission. At Vanderkamp this summer we have been able to help many campers realize what a positive, non-bullying, and unconditionally loving world can look like because of multiple volunteer staff members this summer.
Yes, Vanderkamp can be considered to have only a few rules but that is because the focus is not restriction but on empowerment.Campers are empowered by allowing them to interact with different age groups, gender identities, intelligences, and social classes. Through these interactions campers learn by determining for themselves what is important to work on. Choice. Is this not what we want for ourselves as humans? Intrinsic motivation to do what we love and be productive in society in our own unique ways?
When looking back on this summer I realized that in order to empower the children we had to meet them where they are and let them speak through not only through words but play. I could sit here and write about the psychological research on play therapy, person centered therapy, self determination theory, and more but the point I want to get across is that as older human beings children, and others younger than us should be walked with and empowered in their journeys not structured to be what we want them to be or to head in the direction of what we think their life goal should be. We give them the toolbox and see what they build with it.
1. Will it really matter in a year? Or in six months?
2. Is this helping me to grow and become a better person?
3. Why does their opinion or approval matter to me?
4. Am I acting on my feelings? Am I likely to regret this?
5. What if I decided to do things differently?
6. What if I decided to write a choose who I will be instead of letting others decide my life for me?
Check out these questions and figure out where you stand. The effort will be worth it.
Over the past few weeks i’ve had the chance to talk with leaders and youth about what they see as potentially happening between the generations currently. In particular, the question that we asked ourselves was are youth motivated to be active in extracurricular activities such as a church youth group? Why or why not?
When thinking about this question I decided that I think the culture has shifted from a culture of a community helping raise up an individual being to a community of individuals. Do you feel like you have a major support system that helps guide you? or do you feel like you have a support system that pushes you to make your own mark on the world?
In either case I feel that the answer is as follows. Everyone is motivated especially youth and young adults to make their own mark on the world even if that means just being who we are. However, we do not always have that freedom. One of the few places that I know such freedom exists is when I’ve attended a summer camp where you are encouraged to spend the time that you have in whatever way you find enjoyable as long as it is safe, respectful of others, and fits the philosophy/theology of the camp.
Why not everywhere? I believe that we are able to take the mission from these summer camps and incorporate it into our daily lives to build a loving and caring community that supports individuals in their pursuits so that they can be as successful as they can. Of course this is a two way street where you give some and you can ask for some. In the end it is up to us as individuals to make the choice to develop a culture that is about supporting and assisting each other.
Unconditional love and unconditional positive regard are a great start to building this framework. The key word there is unconditional. We can experience negative opinions about others but the goal should be to in the end realize their imperfections, our imperfections, and reconcile them through caring for each other.
At the heart of it - this is what counselors work to develop so that they can help others professionally. However, I believe that if everyone developed the ability to have unconditional positive regard and unconditional love the world would be able to function in a loving and supporting manner. This is a hard task that can take some of us years to work towards but in my personal opinion it can help enrich all of our lives.
P.s.- I have not posted in awhile due to some major changes that have been taking place in my life. However, I have been involved in some awesome youth ministry and wrapped up my first complete year of graduate school for mental health counseling.
Rachel Naomi Remen (via onlinecounsellingcollege)
Link back to- Boredom: Transitional or Definitive Part I
Previously I have discussed how boredom can be a transitional instead of definitive piece of our lives by taking time to take action or reflect on ourselves. The question can probably be asked however, “What is so important about do that?”
My response is relatively simple, “You need to take in the bigger picture of your life.”
In order to illustrate this i’ll describe one of my favorite activities to use when helping others understand why the bigger picture is so important.
All the pieces of paper that made up the puzzle are from the same sheet of paper as each of human beings are from the same DNA. We each have our own beliefs, concerns, worries, tolerances, annoyances, anger, joy, and peace. When you take all of these experiences and put them together you have the experience of yourself (your story) and the experience of a group (our story). The bigger picture is that not only are you important to yourself but you are also important to the rest of the world (even if they have not recognized that fact yet). Boredom is a catalyst for either self-reflection and better understanding of the bigger picture that is yourself or there is time for action so that you can develop a better understanding of what is around you and the bigger picture of your community and the world.
Don’t take your time for granted. Eventually, your grant will run out and you’ll have to look back at what you created with it. So for you is boredom transitional or definitive?
Henry David Thoreau (via sophianism)
The quote shared previously by Jeffrey A. Kottler is my recollection of something said by this Master Therapist in his book “On Being A Therapist”. In this book he speaks about what honestly goes on through his mind as he has worked as a therapist over the years. Once again the quote says:
"Boredom is your body’s way of telling you to act. You have a choice, you can either be proactive and do something to change your situation or you take that time to self reflect."
For me this quote is a strong reminder and mantra that can be used for anyone who feels that they are bored. Being bored is just the transitional state from one moment to the next. You have the choice, the cognitive ability, and the time to take yourself, take care of others, or be grateful. Otherwise you are using the time to only let yourself be taken further down into the pit of despair.
Boredom is the transition from one moment to next. As a result, I considered boredom to be a transition into motivation. How do you stay motivated? How are we motivated?
Motivation consists of what you thinking, what you are feeling, what you are experiencing, and what you are doing. Let’s start with thoughts. You may be thinking, “I need to stop this behavior because ______.” If you are thinking that you need to stop the behavior to better yourself then you are intrinsically motivated (motivated by yourself). If you are thinking that you need to stop this behavior because your friends told you to then you are extrinsically motivated (motivated by others).
Where are you? Are you trying to change for yourself or for others? What is the change that you truly want? What is the change that you truly need?
These questions can be answered in many different ways and it is up to you to find the answer that best fits you. If you are focusing only on others then you are forgetting yourself and if you are focusing only on yourself then you are forgetting about others. The goal is to find the balance that is right for you. Your thoughts can drive you towards your goal or away from it.
Continued in Boredom: Transitional or Definitive Part II
Jonathan Ugalde quoting Jeffrey A. Kottler from “On being a Therapist”