1st Semester Reflections of a Counseling Student

A blog post by MA in School Counseling Student Ambassador Billy Shyne 

After working six years in the airline industry, I came into the School Counseling program at USD. Planes and people don’t necessarily require the same skillset, but I knew that I wanted to help kids. At first, I was very intimidated by the knowledge and experiences that my professors and peers had. However, I feel motivated and confident as I start my second semester.

What has ultimately helped me be successful (in my own way) is to remind myself to:

  • Be curious

  • Be vulnerable

  • Get involved

  • Be proud

Be curious

A classmate once shared that what he tells himself before a practice counseling session is “be curious”. I’ve internalized that throughout the semester and see that approaching counseling with that mindset allows for a genuine counseling relationship to form. However, I needed to harness specific skills to feed my curiosity.

Counseling entails a ton of active listening. Being a talker myself, I had to learn to take a step back and allow space for others. I learned about as much from my cohort as I did from my professors (sorry, professors!). Hearing others’ ideas, questions, and experiences builds off the theory and skills we learn in class.

Another huge tool in counseling is silence. This one is hard to learn, but it gets easier with time, like any habit. As counselors, we need to be comfortable with silence to allow our clients or students to fill the space.

Be vulnerable

We have created the most beautiful spaces in my classes to share. A big part of this is everyone’s willingness to open up or respectfully listen. In my first semester, I have done more reflection, soul searching, contemplation, meditation, or whatever you want to call it than I have ever done before. Going at these reflections with an (appropriately) vulnerable mindset has made the journey of reflection even more enriching than the final product. This is an opportunity to grow, and the professors have always been willing to meet and discuss any questions that may have come up for me.

Get involved

What better way to meet people than to get involved?! I had the chance to meet some fantastic 2nd and 3rd-year students through the CMFT Honors Society, Chi Sigma Iota (CSI). They have been an excellent resource for what classes I should take and where I should consider doing Practicum and Fieldwork. CSI has also been a great place to network with local counseling professionals and USD students that I had not had the chance to meet in class.

Professors are a great resource, and they all hold office hours to talk about anything and everything. Sitting down with a professor, sharing my interests and aspirations, and discussing topics covered in class, has been an invaluable resource. They really care about us. I cannot stress this enough.

Last but not least, the cohort model has been an exceptional experience. We are around 30 students in the School Counseling/School-Based Clinical Counseling cohort. The size makes it easy to make new friends and build genuine relationships. These are the people I explore San Diego with and make life here all the better!

Be proud

If you are reading this, you are either thinking of applying, have applied, and/or are already at USD. You have already made the first step in this enlightening journey towards helping people. That is something to be very proud of.

I saw this sign (literally and figuratively) at a school in North Park during my first week in San Diego

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