Today marks the day my profession changes from “Licensed Mental Health Therapist” to “Student”. I have been a student many times before, but never without another super awesome title, like “Barista” or “Sales Associate” or “Case Manager”. Today also celebrates the longest I have stayed at any job. Not sure if this means a change in job satisfaction or simply a result of my increasing attention span.
I’ve been completing transfer summaries for all my clients this week, all the while hoping and praying that their new therapist will love them, celebrate with them, and stay with them, even with the tantrums, stolen cell phones, and the near heart attacks I received after several of them jumped out of my moving car.
I’m trying to be present with my mixed emotions-I’m both thrilled to be accepted into a competitive PhD program and sad to be leaving my clients, co-workers, and career identity. I’m excited about investing into my family’s future with another degree, but nervous about how our life will change over the next five years.
I’m reflecting on a few good stories I remember-such as frosting smiles after missing cupcakes and field trips to experience the symphony for the first time. I remember getting covered in mud while lost during a therapeutic hike and teaching hygiene skills after a series of embarrassing accidents. I got so excited helping a family find safe housing after months of nightmares and watching friendships being formed after weeks of silence.
Yesterday, I fed all my clients doughnuts and hugged their sweaty, sticky bodies “good-bye”. Today, on my last day, I mailed them all notes of encouragement for their new school year. Tomorrow, I will leave for vacation and work to create some space between my past with them and my present as a graduate student.
They will have new fabulous therapists in their lives and I will have new precious clients in mine, but I’ll keep their faces in my mind and their artwork in my folder forever.