Friday, December 2, 2011

Can I Handle This?

My professor made a comment last week in my Sociology of Religion class that really resonated with me. We were discussing the Central American Peace Movement, and what social factors contributed to creating and making this movement successful. My professor made a comment about how personal reflections and accounts from Central American refugees "humanized the problem" for many Americans. This comment stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I thought about it while I was waiting for the bus, while I was eating my PB&J sandwich, and even while I was supposed to be paying attention in my Gender Studies class. The wheels in my head kept on turning, thinking of how often times, a personal connection to an issue is what makes the problem seem real and pressing.

In many ways, my internship has humanized a lot of problems for me. Problems of drug addiction and substance use, problems of mental health and domestic violence. When I took on this internship, I was drawn by my passion for social change and contribution. After years of watching Law and Order, and all the Criminal Justice classes I had under my belt, I felt that I was more than prepared to handle anything that came my way. After all, I did read almost every Nancy Drew book (Spoiler Alert: the later books kind of lost substance for the narratives, so I made a decision to stop with the series), what couldn’t I handle?

Well, apparently Nancy Drew had some thick skin, and some serious emotional disengagement skills. As the weeks progress, I find myself becoming more and more emotionally overwhelmed with my internship. Turns out although classes can prepare you for the situations you may face, actually experiencing the situation is a lot different. It’s easy to strategize and see a clear solution from a textbook, but seeing a problem in front of your face changes your perspective completely. I have become extremely invested in the clients Centerstone helps—and leaving these emotions at my internship has been difficult. These emotions are having me question whether or not I can handle a career in the mental health and counseling field. Although I am passionate about the subject, and passionate about helping others, I’m worried the stress may become overwhelming…

Will these emotions subside with prolonged experience, or will I continue to feel emotionally overwhelmed?

Posted by Anne

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