A Day In the Life of a CounselorBy Dr. Richard Boyum
This individual is currently carrying a 3.47 GPA and ranked 91st in her high school graduating class. She has a composite ACT of 25 and is majoring in one of the sciences. She is finding herself feeling very anxious, related to her academic performance, and defines herself as a perfectionist with high academic aspirations. Early in her life, including her college career, she has been extremely dependent upon her friends. She finds herself being less like them and in many ways more mature in her needs. For example, recently a group of her women friends drove from Eau Claire to Thunder Bay to drink, because of the Canadian lower age for drinking. This young lady had a terrible weekend and is trying to define how connected to stay with these friends, because she does care and values them even though their interest patterns are changing. This was our first counseling session, and she would like to return both to discuss ways to be more realistic in her approaches to her academics and to consider ways in branching out to find new friends.
Client 2 is a returning non-traditional student who is extremely capable. He was in the 88 percentile of his high school graduating class. His ACT scores are not available because of his attending another college. He is on probation after suspension, and is being given one last chance to complete a degree. He has actually achieved over the allotted number of credits, but does not have them in any particular major at this point. He has come to realize that a major impediment to his completing his degree is his alcohol use. His primary statement in our first session today was that he would like to believe there is another problem in his life, but that he is probably alcohol dependent and he needs to address this issue. He has asked for continued counseling because he truly would like to continue to stay in school and finish a degree. It was agreed that he would return for another session regarding issues involving participation in a 12-step program, and additional supportive counseling here was discussed.
This individual is a senior in computer science, but at this point has a fairly low GPA. He has had some motivational problems, but has been back on track. He was here today to do a check-in because he wants to stay on target to complete his degree in the next two semesters. He has asked to use counseling as a way to keep himself on track and keep motivated. Also discussed were a number of opportunities for careers and jobs, particularly related to computer science in the medical instruments field in the Twin Cities and the U.S. Military and Department of Defense. The client indicated that he would like to return in approximately two weeks for additional supportive counseling.
This young woman stopped in for what would be defined as an urgency-related issue. She is a graduate student who has had a series of health-related problems, including a fairly recent operation to remove an ovarian cyst. She has had severe endometriosis, and is at the risk of losing her other ovary. She has been on some medication to suppress this growth, but one of the medications side-effects is her having extreme mood swings and anxiety. Because her graduate program requires such intense focus, our discussion revolved around her going off the medication and risking the loss of another ovary, which would mean she would not be able to bear her own children. We discussed adoption as an issue and also explored the fact that she is now in the healthiest relationship she has even been in and is really happy. It is important to note that this individual had been in as an undergraduate to discuss both an unsatisfying relationship she was in, as well as a situation involving sexual abuse by an uncle when she was younger. The client has asked for supportive counseling on an as needed basis as she processes through her current situation.
This young woman ranked 89th in her high school class, and is a first semester freshman. She has a composite ACT of 23. She is very bright, but is extremely homesick. She feels she is attending college because her parents have really wanted this, including their selecting in part, a major for her in music. She has thought about quitting school, and we began to work on issues involving her taking ownership for her own education and her life. She knows her parents are well-intended, and she is unsure of what she wishes to do. We looked at the possibility of undeclaring a major at this point, dropping one class that she is not doing well in, and committing to staying in school until at least the end of the semester. This individual requested coming back for additional counseling to help her make choices that seem appropriate to her. The referral was initially made by a parent, but she was assured that all of our communications were confident and that this counseling experience was truly hers.
This young woman has a composite ACT of 20, and a 73rd percentile high school rank in class. She currently has a 3.33 GPA and is a senior expecting to graduate in December. At the present time, she is in the best relationship of her life. The difficulty is that she has always been in unhealthy relationships in the past. The young man she is currently seeing is a graduate of this institution and lives in the Twin Cities. He would like to have her join him there and the two of them have talked about marriage. Because of her bad experiences, she reports that she has never been able to trust men, although this relationship has given her no reason to have mistrust. She is afraid of sabotaging the relationship and losing out on something that she knows would be good. This was our third session in working on creating a stronger sense of trust and allowing a relationship to grow and follow its natural course. She has asked to be seen in approximately two weeks to continue discussions in this area.
This client is a male with a 59th percentile rank in class and a 2.99 GPA. He has a composite ACT of 19 and is a senior that will be graduating in May. He has a problem with anger management and tends to be very judgmental. He knows that this is causing him problems, and he would really like to get this behavior under control. He sees it as impacting both his professional and his personal life. We have been working on models to more appropriately express his emotions and feelings, and to think more constructively about the issues in his life. This was our third counseling session, and he has asked to be seen in approximately one week.
This young woman is a junior with a 2.91 GPA and a high school rank in class at the 72nd percentile. She came in to discuss her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism and his continued drinking patterns. She is very frustrated by the breakup of her family and her inability to get her father to see the severity of his drinking problem. Our discussion today focused around the limits of her responsibilities, and what she can and what she cannot do for her parents, and what this teaches her about her own life at present. She’s made a commitment to stay on track with her own academics and not allow these experiences with her family to distract her.