Seven years ago I began my quest to obtain my Master of Arts in Counseling (M.A.C.) degree in Lakeland College’s graduate program. I was working full time at a local nonprofit as executive director. I was dating my (now) husband. The degree appealed to me as I have always valued human individuality and connection. Continuing my education had never been a question, just a matter of when and where. Helping others came intrinsically, evident in my undergraduate degree in sociology/nonprofit management. Little did I know then how much of an impact my experiences acquiring this degree would have on me. How my worldview would expand and my heart would open wide. How empathizing emotionally and exposing my own vulnerabilities would be things I learned, expressed, and instilled in others on a daily basis.
My practicum and internship experiences having been fulfilling beyond words. I recognize now more than ever that as an individual’s therapist/counselor you have great privilege in entering someone else’s world and helping one heal, overcome, and continue to face life with best foot forward. Seven years was much longer than my original plan but life got in the way as it does. Marriage, the loss of my stepdad and father-in-law, welcoming our son, and then the loss of my dad, I have experienced deep personal joy and sorrow over the last years. As I had to take a step back throughout my graduate program and re-evaluate my own goals, find family/work life balance, and take time for me, I have tried to encourage and instill the importance of this for all the clients I have worked with. It’s great to have a plan, but our plans don’t always unfold just as we imagine and that is okay. It is how we learn to positively navigate challenges and address the adversities in our life (illness, death, emotional turmoil) that will ultimately help us on our own pathway to wellness.
Working as a Counseling Intern at Yurk Counseling Services LLC was my last step on my way to meeting this life goal of continuing my education. The clients I had the opportunity to meet were also on their own journeys and I hope I was able to help support them in finding inner peace, life balance, and improved emotional and psychological health. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Wendy Yurk, owner of Yurk Counseling Services, as my supervisor and mentor. Her guidance and expertise was and is so valuable to me. As I close the chapter on this life goal, I will always be grateful for the opportunity and experiences I received and my own life lessons learned during my journey. In closing, please know that reaching out for help during any difficult life challenge is brave and beautiful. I will continue to share this message in my role as executive director of Mental Health America in Sheboygan County, celebrating mental health champions and all that makes us unique.