I was just thinking back on earlier days. I remember taking “shop” in elementary school, Jr. High and Senior High. It seems that times have changed because it was mandatory for boys to take these classes and girls were required to take home economics and other cooking or sewing classes. One thing I specifically remember was how nearly every one of my shop teachers was missing a finger. I hope this wasn’t a requirement but it was often the case. This got me thinking about credentials. Would a shop teacher be a better safety instructor after losing a finger or a poor role model for children? What if he or she lost more than one finger in separate incidents? Would that take away the person’s credibility as proponent of safety?
I wanted to relate this metaphor to counselors. Life experience is a great teacher and can help make a good counselor even better. I believe a shop teacher that has experienced the bite of a buzz saw usually becomes an advocate of stricter safety standards. I also believe that counselors who experience many of life difficulties and learn from them, often become the best therapists. Those who have been sheltered from life’s struggles in their own life, often become prideful and unable to relate to other human beings. We can learn from the mistakes of others, which is a good way to go, but there is something about us as humans that still needs to learn through our own experience. However, we should learn the first time and not go back to the same old behavior.
I cannot imagine sending my son or daughter to a shop teacher who has several fingers missing from several incidents. This would indicate to me that this teacher does not learn from their mistakes and may not be able to help others from their experience. Touching a hot stove once, helps us learn; continuing to touch the hot stove is incompetence. Unfortunately, I see counselors that continue to put their hand in the saw without learning some of life’s important lessons. Therapists should be experts in human relationships and communication. They should know the correlation between cause and effect and how one’s actions, whether positive or negative, always result in a consequence.
This relates to so many areas of therapist competence. Although, I believe I am a good addiction counselor without having had a particular drug addiction myself, I believe many individuals who have had a problem in the past can make excellent counselors. However, those who remain in “recovery” forever and continue to struggle need to step away from the field of counseling. I can see a how a divorced counselor could still be an effective marriage and family therapist, however, if this person has a divorce, after a divorce, after a divorce, their credibility becomes questionable. Soon, the counselor can cut off so many fingers that they lose their integrity with their clients or their stubs for hands leave so many scars that they are more focused on themselves and their recovery and their effectiveness with others becomes limited.