Physician, Heal Thy Self

Physician, heal thyself.” These words of Jesus (Luke 4:23) apply to all care givers. My particular concern is mental health care givers, having been one for about twenty years.

The dilemma with being a professional care giver is that we tend to have as our main issue our own personal issues/agenda. We have to be very careful to avoid the pitfall of waking up one morning and realizing, “Oh no. This is all about me.” I know. Been there. Done that.

I remember giving one of my college professors pause when, on this general topic, I posed the question, “What would happen to our profession if suddenly there were no mental illness?” The answer is obvious—“we would be out of a job.” So, in a way, counselor educators should provide a course in which students are taught to be effective in alleviating client’s woes…but not too effective! We don’t want the market to dry up!

Seriously, “we wage the war we are.” (W. H. Auden) Yes, we go into the care-giving fields to address our own ills as well as those of our clients. That is because we are human. We are flawed. But, we care givers need to be always aware that mental health (and spiritual health) is a process and that as we provide it, we are seeking it. And somewhere in our life….in our own therapy, or spiritual discipline, or church…we need to acknowledge that we “wage the war we are” and own our personal demons and recognize that always, “it is me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer.”

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