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Counseling/Situational Depression


I'm currently at a really low spot, and I don't know how to handle it. I'm 22 and in my first year of my master's in mental health counseling. I'm an excellent student and I've never had an issue with a professor before. Right now, I have a professor that has appeared to be grading my character instead of my work. In my opinion, she has been discriminating against me and my contributions to class are met with animosity and discouragement. I fear her due to the names I have been called by her: cynical, insecure, oppositional, self-entitled, etc. Due to this, I feel it has impeded my education dramatically and that I haven't gotten what I've needed out of this class. I brought this to the attention of my department chair and she asked me to write this teacher an email explaining my feelings, and to send it back to her for feedback, and then to send it to this professor (nina). My email was approved, and I sent it. Shortly after I had a meeting with the vice president of my school and this teacher where I was torn to shreds, and not even heard. The vice president was not objective and it was simply used as an opportunity to say negative things about me - including attacking me for the email I sent to Nina which my department chair approved. I believe my department chair wanted to teach me how to deal with situations like this, but now all I've learned is that I shouldn't address concerns. In this meeting, I said how I was fearful of Nina and they wanted me to defend my emotions and kept saying "Well you don't look scared."

I want to be an excellent therapist someday. And my other professors have had nothing but kind words for me and they believe I can do it. My motivations for the classes that I'm in with this professor has diminished completely. I've been crying for six hours straight because I don't know if I should take their feedback to heart or not. In the meeting Nina said I had no ability to reflect (although my department chair sees that as my best quality), that I think I'm better than everyone else, that she has no idea why I'm in this field, etc. I only have two weeks left with this professor, but I don't know what to do.

My department chair promised that she had my back and that I wouldn't get hurt, and I did get hurt and have heard nothing from her. I think I may have gotten her in trouble as well because when I said the email was approved by her they were very angry about that. I feel like an absolute terrible person, and I have a history of depression/anxiety. I don't know how to make sense out of what happened and go forward.

How does a person decide if the negative things said are valid and I to change, or if they should be dismissed? It's hard to discount a vice-president and a person with 2 PhD's (Nina)I need help making sense of this. Thank you.

Hello Chantell,

Sorry that you have experienced such awful behavior from those who are supposed to be mentoring you. They handled this badly. Period. I can't say what the facts are as to your character, but this should never have been about your character or personality, but issues. The effective thing to do would have been to address your concerns- whether they agreed with them or not.

When someone gives you criticism, consider it a gift. There could always be a kernel of truth there that can help you to grow. It's up to you to define whether or not their words are useful or not. If you see any truth to the criticism (horrible as it was delivered), use that information to grow. If you don't see any truth to it, forget about it. You're out of there in two weeks anyway. If you make a mistake and dismiss it when you should listen, don't worry, it will come back around again.

Chantell, it may not seem like it, but you have been given a great opportunity to learn. As a helping professional, you will face a lot of situations like this. If you can navigate your own situation effectively, you will have no problem helping others with theirs. So, let's make this a learning experience, okay?

Find some material on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and review the skills (as this would be a great tool to help someone else). See what skills YOU can use to help you make sense of this and get through it. That way you will build your skills and also gain some tools.

I will give you the first skill. It's called Radical Acceptance. What it means is that we are often faced with things that we can't change. All we can do is accept that it happened. It doesn't mean that we agree or condone it, just that we know it's done and can't be changed. You may find peace just by practicing that skill.

Best of luck

Laura Giles


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Laura Giles, MSW


I can answer questions about sexual assault, sex offending, domestic violence, substance abuse, acudetox, hypnosis, biofeedback, neurofeedback, ADHD, relationship issues, and run of the mill mental health questions.


Extensive inpatient, outpatient and criminal justice experience.

BS counseling, MSW social work

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