April is Counseling Awareness Month

This month is Counseling Awareness Month (CAM). Created and promoted by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and sponsored by groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA), April is a time to recognize the mental health counselors who work so hard every day to improve lives and help people heal.

The theme for 2021 CAM is #BurnBrightNotOut.

The ACA chose this theme to remind mental health counselors everywhere to let their inner light shine bright and avoid the physical, psychological, and emotional exhaustion – a.k.a. burnout – that can sometimes happen in the counseling profession, CAM 2021 prioritizes three things:

  1. Self-Care. The ACA encourages counselors to take time to focus on themselves and do things that help them rest, recharge, and restore themselves so they can be at their best every day.
  2. Advocacy. The ACA urges everyone who knows a counselor, sees a counselor, or has family members that receive counseling to take a moment to recognize the work those counselors do all year long.
  3. Inclusion. The ACA reminds us that there are over 650,000 counselors at work in various and diverse settings across the country, from private practice, to schools, to psychiatric hospitals, to child service agencies, and more.

To expand on that last point, we want to emphasize the fact that counselors are there when we need them during all phases of our lives. They work with children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. All counselors deserve recognition for the work they do, and gratitude for the many ways in which they help us all year long– but especially during the month of April.

The Counselors at Evolve: A Special Group of Caring Professionals

Here at Evolve Treatment Centers, CAM is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our own counselors – the talented and dedicated clinicians who spend their days and nights ensuring our teens’ safety, facilitating group therapy and other activities, and maintaining the general structure and smooth functioning of the treatment environment.

Counselors are like family here. They eat meals with our teens, accompany them during experiential therapy activities, group outings, and stay on call in case crises arise. Our counselors are the people we trust to keep our teens in line-of-sight and line-of-hearing at all times. They help our teens through all aspects of their treatment experience, from the tough days to the breakthrough days – which are sometimes the same days! Our counselors celebrate progress and help our teens apply their new coping skills when they experience challenging emotions or display dysregulated behavior.

But most importantly, our counselors care deeply about our teens and bring themselves fully to their work every day, with the sole purpose of helping our teens heal, grow, and evolve.

In honor of Counseling Awareness Month, we spoke to two of our residential counselors, Jonathan Hernandez from Evolve Vanalden and Braxten Rutherford from Evolve Calabasas.

To learn about them, read on.

Jonathan Hernandez, Residential Counselor, Evolve Vanalden.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Walking in the door at the start of my shift, and hearing the kids yell my name!

Who has influenced you most when it comes to your work?

All of my coworkers! From day one, everyone has been so wonderful and generous with their knowledge and experience.

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

Receiving letters of thanks from teens I’ve worked with.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

I would love to be in SPACE! But only for the day.

[Editor’s note: We think that means Jonathan hasn’t completely given up his childhood dream of being an astronaut – for a day.]

What do you always want to try and never did?

I’ve always wanted to start a band.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing the individual growth of each teen I work with, from intake to discharge.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

Allow yourself to live in the present moment.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I flew solo to London to see the last performance of the original cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Thanks Jonathan!

Next up:

Braxten Rutherford, Residential Counselor, Evolve Calabasas.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Participating in interesting group sessions with the teen clients.

What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

My first coaching session. One of our teens communicated they felt much better after I helped them use skills to reduce urges.

What’s your favorite quote?

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

-Albert Einstein

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I went cliff diving at Lake Havasu in Arizona.

[Editor’s Note: Some of those cliffs are 150 feet high!]

What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?

I’m working to improve my write-ups and to transfer information with total clarity in emails and client notes.

Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

I really enjoy TTRPGs (table-top role-playing games) such as Dungeons & Dragons that allow me to create and tell stories with friends.

Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

The clients themselves. Each one is unique, and I learn so much from hearing their different perspectives on life.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

High school will be a breeze.

Thanks Braxten!

We’d like to recognize Jonathan and Braxten for taking the time to share this personal information with us.

Guys – you’re rockstars and we appreciate everything you do!

How You Can Participate in Counseling Awareness Month

The most important thing you can do is simple. If you have a counselor, or know a counselor, take a moment to let them know you appreciate the work they do. Whether you see a counselor through work, your child has a helpful counselor at school, or you interact with a counselor in one of the many settings in which they work, think of something kind and nice to do for them, and don’t be shy: go ahead and do it.

Here’s a hint: we rarely meet a counselor who doesn’t appreciate a nice lunch or a good (healthy) snack to get them through the day. They’re also notorious consumers of coffee, although some outliers are known to prefer a mug of relaxing herbal tea, too.

If you want to get more involved in celebrating Counseling Awareness Month, you can download and share the CAM poster, play CAM Bingo, participate in the CAM webinar on April 23rd, or download the CAM toolkit on this page.

Please join us this April in recognizing the important work counselors do!