“A counselor is someone who’s just there.”
Anna
Program Manager
Demaree, Program Manager (left) and Anna, Program Manager (right)

Staff members, Anna and Demaree, bust myths about what being a counselor at ATC means.

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Demaree: So I think we work with so many bright people and so many ambitious people and I think a thing that happens often is ... our clients don’t even know how talented they are. Or how special they are. So, my job is just, we’ll kinda hang out, we’ll talk and then they’ll name all these amazing things they’re doing. They’re dancing. They’re writing. They’re making music. They’re doing community work. They’re feeding their friends. They wanna stop smoking. They wanna start their own non profit. And I just kinda listen and as we build long term relationships with them, I go back to it. I kinda say “How’s this been going? I know you wanted to work on this organization. Has that worked at all? I know you wanted to start this non profit. Do you know how that would go?” You know? Just kind of about me checking in on them and what they’re doing.

Anna: Yeah. And I think it’s interesting as a newer counselor, it’s like we do help, we do help our clients identify their goals. But it’s not like they’re coming to us saying “My goal was this” I have never heard a client say “Here are my goals” So, it takes this certain type of listening and certain type of relationship building to get at what their goals are. And they might not call them goals. But through their counseling meeting and, like, long term relationships meeting them every week, those things kind of come up organically. It’s not always - I just want to make a point it’s not always an easy thing to do. Because sometimes clients … we have some clients who are very sure their goals. And we have some clients who are not so sure. So for the counselor, there’s a fine line between assuming what their goals are and really, putting in the time and work with this person to help them figure out what they want to say, what they want to do. Right?

Demaree: Yeah, I agree. I think the funny thing is you don’t even realize how much you get to counsel until you build that long-term relationship. Like, so much of it just hanging out and listening. And just being a good sounding board. But it’s not until you’ve worked with someone for a couple months. You’ve had a couple meetings, then you can start reflecting back what they said to you. “Hey man, I know you were really interested in this. And then something that’s important to realize how fluid our client’s lives are. Like, sometimes we have clients with these big dreams and big ideas of what they have to do. But their main priority is just finding a place to stay for the night. So it’s kinda like balancing that. There’s so many immediate needs that it’s hard for them to be able to vocalize all their long-term goals.

Anna: For sure. I would want the community to understand that counseling is just more than, like, “Ok. You have an issue. Bro, I’m going to counsel you through this.” Counseling is something - is someone who’s just there, to bounce ideas off of, to run things by, to check in with, to say hi to, to celebrate with, to cry with, and it’s not just … I think the stigma of counseling At the Crossroads does a good job of breaking through that. Right? It’s like a very formal title, but it’s actually what we do is super informal. And it … doing it that way ends up solidifying the relationship in ways that using the title could never do.

Demaree: I think you’re right. I think the moments where I’ve counseled the most is by being completely silent. I think sometimes just being there is kinda what people want, that’s what they need. Like, they don’t need me to solve their problems, they don’t need me to give them a lecture. They just need someone that’s there to listen without wanting shit else in return.

Anna: No, yeah. And it’s amazing how simple it really is.