From Engineer to Integrative Psychotherapist: My History as a Counselor

Posted By: on February 14, 2015
My History as a Counselor

I always did well in school.

I’m not 100% sure why, but it seemed to come naturally to me. Maybe there’s some truth to the idea of being “gifted” or “talented.” Perhaps I just wanted to make my teachers and my parents proud of me, so that I could feel loved.

Probably, it was a little of both. I was smart, which gave me ability for things like school.  I also longed to earn the love and approval of the adults in my life, which gave me tremendous motivation to do well in my studies.

That combination led to a series of accolades. Early on it was elementary school prizes. Next came high school honor rolls and awards in all the sciences. In college I made the dean’s honor roll every year, and won scholarships and prizes for having the highest GPA in my graduating undergraduate class. I even received full rides to cover graduate programs, both Masters and Doctorate.

All of that took place in the field of engineering.

My Life as an Engineer

As an engineer, I could do the work, very well in fact. Unlike some other careers, engineering work draws heavily on the same academic skills required to be successful as a college student. And that was work I was good at.

Even so, I knew something was missing.

Other engineers I worked with seemed to have this knack I didn’t have. They were tuned in to their work in a way that’s difficult to describe.

It was as if they could sense the path to a solution, sometimes long before the numbers backed up their intuition. It made them fantastic at their jobs.

I never felt that way. The answers didn’t just come to me. I could get all the right answers, complete all my tasks, and probably would have had a long, successful career had I stayed with it.

But I didn’t feel at home as an engineer. So I decided to change course.

Counseling: My Calling

When I changed course and began studying to be a counselor, I knew almost from the first moment that this was the career I was meant to pursue.

When I began working with clients, I instinctively knew what to do. I could feel it. The answers were right there, hanging in the air between me and my client. It was as if I could reach out and touch them. For me, the counseling room felt like home.

My clients called it “psychic.” But there was never anything supernatural happening. I had a knack for understanding what was happening internally with my clients. And I was able to feed that back to them in a way that gave them insight.

What Counseling Looks Like from a Counselor’s Perspective

Some of the most transformational work I do with my clients is called “depth work.” It’s a process where, together, we work to uproot and heal some of the old hurts that they’ve been carrying with them, sometimes for decades.

This goes well beyond what you might experience in other counseling offices. I’ve watched countless people be healed of their pain through this process, sometimes recovering from almost unthinkable tragedy from earlier times in their lives.

In the office, when I began doing this depth work with clients, some people unconsciously blocked me from their deeper pains.

They were attempting to hold me at bay, the same way they held everyone at bay, the same way they probably had to their parents at bay earlier in their lives. They were scared to let anyone inside, past the barrier, into their real selves and their real emotions.

But even in those cases, even when it was tough and a client was trying to hold things back, I found I could still recognize the transference in what they’re doing.

As I watched and listened, I respected their defenses. But I also began to understand how to care for them in a way that touched their hearts, opening them up to feeling. Soon, their defenses gradually melted away. And from there, the healing could begin.

For some people, the healing just poured out of them. They just needed my support in allowing it to happen.

For others, it was scary to heal, because it meant confronting parts of their pasts that were overwhelming to them. For these folks, I knew to attune to their natural rhythm, to allow it to flow slowly.

I’d allow the security of our relationship to build, and then, one brave step at a time, I’d invite them to confront the fears, to triumph over the past so that they could reclaim today.

At some moments they stepped into this healing, and other times they stepped back, and I respected each decision as an important statement of what they were ready for.

But through all of it, I knew this was where I was meant to be.

Conclusion

The full, formal name of therapy I studied and practice is called Integrative Psychotherapy. It’s a discipline that’s given me a language to articulate things I think I’ve known all along.

For whatever reason, I have a natural understanding of the human condition. Unlike engineering, where I spoke the language but never had the “feel” for it, in counseling I found a profession where I had a “feel” already, and and later learned the language to explain what I already knew in my heart, even if I didn’t yet have the words to express it.

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about depth work, the process of Integrative Psychotherapy, and how real, lasting, healing is possible through the techniques we teach at Heart Centered Counseling, please don’t be afraid reach out to us. We’re easy to reach at help@heartcenteredcounselors.com or (970) 673-1783. There’s no obligation to call, the initial consult is always free. We can even check your insurance ahead of time and let you know what benefits are available to you.

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