It’s weird, this life as a Licensed Professional Counselor, because a giant chunk of my vocation involves work I never get to tell you about.
I’m sure you know that HIPPA laws keep me from talking about them. Even if a pastor or friend were to refer someone to see me, and then ask, I’m not even allowed to say they called.
The middle of the night is often when I do my creative thinking. Last night I started thinking about all the clients I’ve seen since 2005.
I’m required by law to keep records. What’s contained in those notes is nothing mysterious. I jot down times, dates, names of family members, ages, years married, years divorced, etc. All the stuff that reminds me about their history each time we meet.
Every so often I sort through files that are older than seven years and I take them to a shredding company. The rest of the files remain behind double sets of locks.
If I were to spend lots of times thinking about my clients, that would be an important sign that I need to get some supervision.
So it’s normal not to think about them. And yet, most of them have never been forgotten by me. I remember their courage and tears. I remember their laughter. I remember how hard they tried. I remember their triumphs and their failures.
They are not paychecks to me. (Money is not my motivator but yes it’s important that I get paid for my time and education). They are precious people and I can honestly say I have a love for them. I consider myself blessed to be in a helping profession where people open up to me with situations they often don’t tell their parents, partners, or friends. It’s an incredible position of trust!
In twelve years I have never once seen a client without praying for the Holy Spirit to lead me. I pray for each of them even if they tell me they don’t have a faith. I know I fail them at times. But my prayer is that I ask the right questions, offer the right insights, and create a safe place for them to do the emotional work to grow and heal.
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."