My Secret Life

>> Friday, April 8, 2011

Many of you are unaware that I am a counselor by night. Like Superman, I whip off my prim and proper work clothes when I go home in the evening and whip on some more prim and proper clothes and head for my office. I usually see at least one person a night and several on Saturday.

I remember well one of my counseling sessions. After just a few years of marriage filled with constant arguments, a young man and wife decided the only way to save their marriage was to try counseling. They had been at each other’s throats for some time and felt that this was their last straw.

When they arrived at my office, I jumped right in and opened the floor for discussion. “What seems to be the problem?’

Immediately, the husband put his face down without saying anything. In contrast, the wife began talking 90 miles per hour, describing all the things wrong in their marriage. After 15 minutes of listening to her, I went over to him, pulled him to his feet, hugged him tight and kissed him passionately … then sat him back down. He sat there speechless.

I looked over at the wife, who stared in disbelief, and said, “Your husband NEEDS that at least twice a week!” She scratched her head and said, “I think he can make it on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”


One Saturday, a rather large mountain of a man, named Tex, came in for his first appointment. What made him a bit unusual was the fact that he had a gun in a holster strapped to his side. I was in my office when my secretary, Sarah, let me know that Tex and his six shooter had arrived. I must admit I was concerned.

I came out to find Tex in the waiting room. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and then said, “You know, Tex, we don’t allow firearms in our counseling sessions. They have a way of frightening counselors. However, we can make arrangements for taking care of it while you and I talk”.

I took him to Sarah’s desk, gave her one of those knowing winks that means “play along with me here” and told Tex that Sarah would give him a receipt for his gun. As Tex reached for his gun, Sarah just stared off into space. I made some hand motions to start writing something. Finally, she reached for a pink telephone message pad and as Tex laid down his gun, Sarah handed him a pink slip of paper with these words on it.

“While you are away,
 this is where your gun will stay.”

We actually had a good counseling session.


One time, the counseling came my way, instead of me handing it out.

I had been given some new assignments at work. The additional tasks meant that I went from having a full plate to one that was overflowing. I was a bit stressed because at the same time I was a single mom with three young children who were into everything and very demanding.

One day the kids came up with the novel idea of wrapping their coins they had been saving, so they could exchange them for dollars. I took home some coin wrappers and we all sat around that evening rolling coins … pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

The next morning, I decided I would just take the coins to work with me and exchange them when I made the bank deposit. So as I dressed, I put coins in all my pockets until there was no room left. I was carrying $36 of silver and copper. It was heavy, but I thought I would be able to quickly get the bank deposit ready and make my exchange unobtrusively. Well, unfortunately what I thought and what occurred were not the same.

I got out of my car and starting walking to the front door of where I worked. The further I walked, the harder it got. The coins were heavy and I began to droop … and even breathe heavy from the weight of my load. The task was more than I had envisioned. Nevertheless, I forged ahead.

As luck would have it, my boss was standing outside and watching me … as I moved very slowly. When I reached the door, I could see a worried look on his face.

“Joy, what’s wrong?”

I answered, “I think I’ve just become overwhelmed with change”. SMILE

To which he replied, “Take today off. We’ll talk about your new responsibilities tomorrow”.


I got into counseling in a rather unique way. I had been a minister’s wife, and when he left me, I was lost vocationally. I knew a man who was a dean of Wake Forest and was the founder of the counselor education program there. He had been friendly with me, so I felt I could discuss my vocational problem with him freely.

As we talked, he did all the right things that made me know he was listening. Then he said, “Why don’t you try counseling?”

I thought that was a great idea. I applied to a counseling program and two years later received my Masters degree in counseling. I happened to run into my friend who had recommended I try counseling. That’s when I discovered his advice had been for me to go to counseling … not become one!


Another time, I was applying for a position in a counselor education program at a rather prestigious school. I was pleased to have made the interview stage and felt I was well prepared. As the day went on, I felt more and more confident. Then came the interview with the Dean of the school. It was not an ideal match. The sudden change in climate made me wary. However, I kept looking for a way to further my cause and make an impression that would be beneficial. Finally, the Dean directed the conversation to academic credentials, a safe ground for me. Looking at my resume, the Dean said, “It looks like you write a lot.”

“Yes”, I replied, thinking I would seize the initiative. “I find writing very therapeutic.”

To which the Dean sighed and said, “You must be very sick.”


Humor has a place in counseling. In the words of singer, Jimmy Buffet, in his song, “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes”, he says, “If we didn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”

(Only parts of this are true … but not very many.)

“A right time to cry and another to laugh,
 a right time to lament and another to cheer,”
Ecclesiastes 3:4 (MSG)


Rita Garcia April 8, 2011 at 6:44 AM  

Thanks for the smiles! Have a blessed day!

Joy Bach April 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM  

Thanks, Rita. You too.

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