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Reflections from a Career Counsellor Intern – Vulnerability and Career Development

By Mary Elizabeth Cobb

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.  Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”                            

Brené Brown

During my graduate studies I have been intentional about taking time to examine research that strikes a chord.  Brené Brown’s TED talk The Power of Vulnerability triggered a significant professional reflection of how vulnerability relates to my experiences as a career counselling intern.

Over the last few months I have witnessed insight and courage demonstrated by clients as they share life experiences; I believe vulnerability enriched the depth of their sharing.  I have observed clients bravely face challenges head on; it is likely vulnerability allowed for these confrontations to succeed.   There is no doubt that vulnerability allows clients to uncover what it is they truly want out of life.  Vulnerability is also required for clients to start putting themselves out there as a volunteer or to attend a networking event.

The light of vulnerability reveals the importance of holding a safe and caring space for clients as they travel along their journey of discovery.  As a novice career counsellor I have been intrigued when I observe a different energy take hold of a client as they speak about something they are passionate about.  I have learned to appreciate this immediacy and often encourage clients to share more about what they are feeling and thinking at that particular moment.  These authentic moments of genuine sharing requires significant vulnerability on the part of the client.

Brown’s research has also inspired vulnerability in my practice as a counsellor.  When I finally let go of my plans and allowed myself to be fully present I started to experience the true power of a therapeutic alliance.  I have been vulnerable by frequently checking in with my clients to see if we are on track or to see if something is missing in our work.  Most importantly I am vulnerable enough to admit how much I have to learn at this early stage of my career.

I have gained many valuable experiences over the last few months as an intern but I am most grateful for the vulnerability clients have shared during our time together.  I plan on continuing with my exploration of Brown’s research and will hold the power of vulnerability close to my heart as I begin my practice as a counsellor.

After fourteen years working as a High School Science Teacher I am now a full-time student in Acadia University’s M.Ed. Counselling Program. It has been exciting to return to the role of student after many years in the workforce. My internship at Mount Saint Vincent University Career Services has introduced me to the exciting field of Career Counselling.

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