Monthly Archives: October 2012
October is just full of these observance days, it seems. Today is apparently also National Depression Screening Day and I agree that it’s important to end the stigma around depression, recognize it, and get proper therapeutic treatment as necessary.
But I’m choosing to talk a bit about National Coming Out Day (NCOD) because the set of issues specifically affecting the LGBTQ community (e.g. bullying, suicide, discrimination) has affected me through the people I care about and was one of the influences that nudged me into pursuing the degree and career I am.
There’s an interesting post here on the history of NCOD. I found the comment “the LGBT community as a whole wasn’t behind the idea [of NCOD] then or even now as many felt it was pressuring people to come out and place them self at risk” to be of particular interest and poignancy. Certainly no one should ever feel pressured to come out; like so many things in life, everyone has their own timeline for it that feels good and right and comfortable for them. And it’s important to remember that for many individuals, coming out isn’t a one-off event; it happens over and over as they meet new people and/or enter new situations. Some feel like it’s something that happens every time they leave the house.
[NCOD] is the day in which it tells people it is okay to be who you are and not be apologetic about it. It is a day we smile, we educate, we increase awareness and tolerance, and it is a day we celebrate the life of those present and the lives of those who passed on.
And, I would add, it is a day to support all LGBTQ individuals – closeted, finding their way, or out and proud – and say, “You’re not alone.”
So in the spirit of the day, I’ll take this opportunity to again “come out” as a Straight Ally. I publicly declare my support of LGBTQ individuals and my hope that my future practice will be a place where they will feel welcome, accepted, and heard. I will strive to be an empathetic ear for those who need someone to talk to, and a navigator for the trip through whatever difficult psychological/emotional waters they face.
Today, no matter your orientation, please remind your LGBTQ friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances that you welcome them in your life, just as they are.
When I logged into WordPress just now to write this post, I had to chuckle that the blog’s top search result today was “hypnosis for world mental health day” because, despite what I said last year and the calendar alert that started pestering me last week, I neglected to post anything for World Mental Health Day 2012. Until the literal eleventh hour of said day.
Even now, I don’t have anything “important” or “profound” to say about mental health or the value of this day in inviting dialogue, raising awareness, and hopefully reducing stigma. Partly just because the past year has had much more… muchness than I ever anticipated.
When I started this blog, for instance, I hoped to post something weekly, perhaps about my experience of being in grad school. What I didn’t realize there was how little motivation I’d have for writing blog entries after the weekly class discussion board posts, the research papers (usually at least one every 8-week term), the exams, etc. were done. (Similar to the effect I mentioned last month that my undergrad program had on my reading habit.) Despite it all, throughout the year I’ve forwarded articles from my Twitter feed to my email with comments I wanted to make, made notes about something I read in CAMFT’s The Therapist magazine, or even sometimes wrote drafts longhand while away from the computer that never got published here. (And some of these things may yet appear, if no one cares that I’m months “late” with commentary on a given article!) Ultimately, school and other things had to come before this blog and don’t think for a minute that I regret focusing my energy in that way.
Another aspect of my lack of a WMHD-appropriate post is that I’m rather self-centeredly consumed right now with the transition facing me. Next Wednesday, I stop being a full-time classroom student and start working at my practicum site. And, due to a scheduling oddity, the next day is my “Advancement date”, the on-the-spot oral presentation of a case conceptualization during which I attempt to prove to two professors that I’ve learned enough from their school to be able to start working at my practicum site. (See “More About Practicum” at the end of this post if I’m speaking gibberish.)
To wax poetic about it, I stand now at the exit door of Theory, gathering my courage and strength to venture into the world of Practice.
So, what I’d really like to do with this post is simply say, “Thank you.” Some of you might recognize yourself in the following list, some of those on the list may never see this post; I’m not going to link to anyone’s site or otherwise single people out, but I’d like to sincerely thank (in no particular order):
- Everyone who supported and encouraged me in this decision and experience.
- Everyone who made me laugh.
- Everyone who engaged in dialogues and debates that reminded me how much I enjoy discussing my chosen field.
- Everyone who gave me reason to remember why I started down this path.
- Everyone who inspired me, both departed and living.
- Everyone who has been so generous with their time, advice, experience, and expertise.
- And, of course, the three fantastic therapists who not only inspired me to do this, but wrote letters of recommendation for my grad school application so I could.
I couldn’t have done this without any of you – let’s keep going. 😉 Here’s to the next phase.
More About Practicum: As what’s known in the MFT world as a “trainee”, I’ll still be a student (in fact, I have two more classes between now and graduation next spring), but I’ll be seeing clients – under the supervision of a licensed therapist. Due to confidentiality and other issues, this isn’t direct supervision of sessions, but rather an experienced professional with whom you discuss cases and seek guidance. You might think of practicum as similar to an unpaid internship any other university student takes on to learn their career, but that understanding is muddied a bit because in this field, “internship” is the work you do for two (or more) years between getting your Master’s degree and earning your license.