The Affirmation

Posted on September 23,2011 by jgarciamspp

OK. I promised you a joke in the event that my first (real) day at Stevens was not absolutely amazing. However, despite the fact that there were no dramatic or traumatic events that would trigger an "awesome" on my day-rating scale I did have a great time (which I will get into later). So, even though it was not a total bust I still feel like I telling you a joke. Here it goes:

A clinician was strolling along Revere Beach when she came upon a small glass bottle in the sand. As she picked up the bottle a genie appeared. "Because of your magnanimity and truly altruistic way of life," bellowed the genie, "I have decided to grant you one wish. What do you desire?"

The clinician thought for a moment and said "I would love a direct bridge from here to Ireland. I can visit my family and go there for vacation any time I want." The genie paused, considered the request and said "Do you realize how much work that would be? All of that metal, all of that pavement... Supporting a bridge like that over that much ocean would be impossible. I am sorry but I cannot grant your wish."

Not wanting to be unreasonable the clinician offered another wish. "Please, help me to better understand my clients. Help me to understand why they cancel appointments but then need to call me at all hours of the night and day. Help me to understand why they wait until the last 3 minutes of a session to tell me all the juicy details. Help me to understand why sometimes they frustrate me to the point of wanting to throw up my hands and walk out. Help me to understand how I can reach them, cure them, rescue them."

The genie looked straight at the clinician. After a few moments of silence he said "For that bridge... would you like 2 lanes or 4?"

I hope you laughed. I thought it was quite clever when I heard it. In fact, I heard it while at my practicum site.

On Monday I walked into my office with a bit of excitement and a touch of nervousness. This is real. I am actually doing this. I began familiarizing myself with the office when I noticed some of the boys walking from one building to another. In an instant I felt panic. What if I am horrible with these boys? What if I can't connect with them? What if they try to hurt me? I thought for a moment that maybe I was in over my head but then it all changed. All of my discomfort and anxiety disappeared the second I officially met the boys I will be working with. For some reason confronting the source of my anxiety head on was enough to knock the fear right out of me. The boys took to me right away and now I cannot wait to start working with them!

On Wednesday, during a staff meeting, I was told that in the middle of the day Stevens was having their "Clinician Appreciation Day" celebration. All of the boys are given a chance to write letters to their clinicians in order to express their gratitude for all the help they have received while in treatment. Writing and presenting the letters is optional so I was completely surprised when I watched young man after young man walk up to the podium in front of everyone at Stevens and share the letter they had written to their clinician. It was powerful.

All I had really known of these boys prior to the celebration is what I had seen on paper. The description of what some of them have done and what has been done to them is heart wrenching, horrifying, and sometimes unimaginable. I was afraid to meet some of them based on their history. I am embarrassed to admit that I half-expected to come face-to-face with a group of monsters. Instead I found myself looking at seemingly familiar adolescent males. They have the face of a brother, a cousin, a son. And here they were getting up in front of a group of a few hundred people and sharing their personal stories and thoughts. It was a career-choice affirmation for me. I am where I am supposed to be. What I want to do is help people. These boys are proof that I can.

Now I can't wait to get through this Weekend in Residence so I can get back to Stevens. I love my practicum site!