Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stressful Stress Management

       A professor of mine made a big fuss in class about sharing an insight of utmost importance.  He sat down (while he normally stands up to lecture), invoked a demeanor that this information could be transformative to our practice of therapy.  We waited on the edge of our seats.  What could be so helpful?  His build-up sounded like he was ready to impart the secret of life.
       The valuable insight was simply that we can only be helpful to clients with stress-filled lives if we can first eliminate stress in our own.  
       Now, that's certainly wise advice but there's an ironic twist to his counsel.  This professor creates more stress for myself and my classmates than anyone else on the faculty.  He's filling in for a professor on sabbatical and his confusing assignments have some students ready to revolt.  
       The collective class stress isn't about the workload or difficulty of the course as much as the mixed messages presented.  He'll encourage creativity in written work but then give explicit instructions that squelch any possibility of using creative license.  His requirements demand exactness.  But pin him down and he'll shrug it off, leaving us wondering whether to pay attention to his strict parameters or his happenstance attitude.  
       The confusion causes more stress than I've felt yet in grad school.  So it's comical that this same professor is now admonishing us to rid ourselves of anything creating stress in our lives.  Go figure!