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Being a Good Counselor

I’ve been teaching a class on the difference between a “dilettante” counselor and a “pro,” meaning like a pro golfer, a pro at putting out oil-well fires, things like that—someone who simply sees1 that the job gets done well. There are certain features of a pro counselor that may be worth raising, that aren’t ordinarily taught, in my opinion.

One is that I don’t think you can be a good counselor and think of only “giving someone a good session.” By now, I think in terms of the future of this person. What can I do in this contact I have with them, this session I’m having with them, to set up continued re-emergence—to line them up and chart their path to the stars? What commitments, what directions written out so they won’t forget them, can I put in their head so that they will carry them forward? What connections can I make with someone else who will hopefully take them forward beyond that?

I also need to deliberately sort out in my own mind that this person is a child of God, is extremely lovable, even if they’ve just been pissing2 on my shoes an hour before or something like that. I have to get away from my response to their distress or I won’t do a good job. If I can’t get away from it, I try to beg off3 and not go through the motions and pretend I’m being a counselor at that point.

Harvey Jackins
From the 1986 Peace and 
Disarmament Activists’ Workshop


1 “Sees” means makes certain.
2 “Pissing” means urinating.
3 “Beg off” means ask to be excused (from counseling them).

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00