We continue to share our own thoughts in response to the first prompt (Refer back to The Invitation if you have questions about what we’re doing here).
Deven Wisner shares his thoughts on our first prompt: How will you be more human in your professional practice?
This semester I had the opportunity to engage in a course focused on mindfulness, consciousness, and spirituality. Little did I know, it was actually a continuation of the topics and skills like reflective practice and interpersonal effectiveness. These additions have proven to be even more appropriate as inequity, privilege, and masculinity persist and fester under reactions (or lack thereof) to COVID-19. Everything going on has caused me to ask how I can move from reflecting after-the-fact to being more attuned to what’s going on in the moment.
For me, building a level of self-awareness heightened through mindfulness and consciousness seems like a non-negotiable prerequisite to exploring how I want to show up. It’s reflective, of course, but being present feels like a necessary enhancement. What I’m describing is the ability to name where my biases and assumptions are coming in as they are occurring, what kind of reactions I’m having to them, and where my feelings are originating from. It has the potential to be an internal dialogue but so often it isn’t (I have thoughts on why but those are for another prompt).
I’m showing up with a new level of internal attendance because as I strive to be more human in my work, I have to be open to learning more about the very human things driving how I show up. And, how can I do that if I’m not present for the communication that’s occurring? It will almost definitely require me to acknowledge, own, and work through things I don’t like or that feel uncomfortable, as well as to actively celebrate the understanding of what was previously taken for granted or not fully understood.
I’m eager, yet apprehensive, for this (re)imagined way of being, but I am looking forward to sharing the experience with each of you!
2 thoughts on “Gaining Consciousness”
Thanks for sharing these reflections. And thanks to Libby, Tiffany, and you for hosting and facilitating this space for reflection. Your point on exploring how you want to show up resonates with something I reflect on from time to time that I think is germane to this conversation: how are my (personal) values present in my work? This is similar to what Trilby and others also shared in response to the original prompt. For me, I know I still need to sit with that question and be present to it.
Looking forward to continuing to reflect with you all here!
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It’s challenging to consider how dehumanized concepts of “professionalism” can be, while remaining relatively “neutral.” I think it is always worth exploring various boundaries that exist, considering why they exist, thinking through where humanism fits throughout that process, and where personal preferences fit. Within the counseling field, it’s an interesting balance of personal styles and professionalism that is often a thin line, and noticing where I have evolved over the years with that have been good to reflect upon.
In my specific work, I started off working with sex offenders then began work with intimate partner violence offenders. In both of those settings, I was trained to be as neutral as possible which when I think back on it was strikingly inhuman. The model of intervention I was using at the time wasn’t particularly effective, and I think a big part of that was because the individual men in the program would either just go along and tell us what we wanted to hear, or would disconnect altogether and fail out of the services. Over the years, I have found different methods of being human while being conscious of boundaries (professional or otherwise).
I have also found that a lot of my reflections have resulted in writing curriculum exercises for groups. Dynamics of healthy relationships? I wrote 30 different unique components for an article once, and much of that was reflecting on my practice, the feedback I would give within group settings, and my own personal considerations. What is the difference between healthy/unhealthy boundaries? I initially wrote an exercise that was over nine pages long, and so complicated that whenever I would do it in a class session I would get fatigued. I eventually streamlined it into something more workable, but since boundaries are so infinite in application, narrowing them down into a presentable and discussion appropriate way was difficult – but again the activity was based on my own reflections, and it’s hard to say if I did that mostly for my work with clients, or for my own personal desire to reflect upon a complicated topic.
So for me, I reflect through interactions, through writing, through review of my professional and personal practice, and often attempt to challenge myself to think through what is authentic and real, and what are things I feed myself that sound good but maybe are more along that professional/dehumanizing line. It’s a weird range of things to be aware of, and I have found that the more I consider the authentic lived experience of people compared to the academic or professional descriptions of life, I find any number of disconnects. And that’s both hugely troubling, but also hugely exciting as it offers many opportunities for progress and navigating things that are often assumed and taken for granted.
Also, I realized at some point that I am just a bit bizarre personally – and the more I try to avoid that reality, the more it just fails to work. So yerba mate, strange and challenging conversations about intersectionality, and non-sequitur comments for the win! Just don’t get me started on a discussion about intimate partner violence, or you might get more than you bargained for 🙂
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