Reflections on 38 Years as a Marriage and Family Counselor: Part 3

In the last installment of a three-part series, Candy Marcum looks back on nearly four decades of service to LGBTQ+ communities. What's changed, the progress we've made, and how some things still remain the same.  

Not the End
38 years in a career is not a unique nor unusual profile of a professional person. It’s a profile of a person who has taken care of themselves, is tenacious, focused and has enjoyed a great deal of luck! A long career represents someone who loves what they do and finds meaning and fulfillment in doing so.
As I look at my career, I see certain themes that have not only sustained me but have also nurtured my path.
I made a conscious decision at the end of my graduate school studies to always stay curious and current in the field of counseling. The desire to help others has motivated and inspired me to know the latest theories and interventions and use them in my work as a counselor and as a supervisor. Learning is also very entertaining to me. I like to learn new things. 
I think about all the new theories, interventions, workshops, conferences, books and articles from which I’ve gained knowledge. The most important way I’ve learned is from my experience with treating clients and supervising interns and associates. I remember when I was fresh out of grad school how difficult it was trying to get a job. Everyone wanted someone with experience in the field. I thought, what’s so great about experience? 
Well, 38 years later I’m here to say experience trumps any book, conference or workshop I have ever attended. I’m eternally grateful for the lessons learned from clients and supervisees.
The other theme that runs throughout my career is the theme of activism. As a lesbian, I was moved to become active in securing my own civil rights and the civil rights for all LGBTQ+ people in my community. As the LGBTQ+ community gained their equal rights, legal marriage became a choice. As a marriage and family therapist, I knew the data on how difficult it is to have and sustain a healthy marriage.
In addition to educating my professional colleagues on how to treat LGBTQ+ clients, I also wanted to help my community create healthy, happy and long-term marriages. For many years I gave a wonderful workshop called Couple Communication. It was done in a group format where couples could see the sameness in relationships whether they were same gender or opposite gender in make-up.  Couples would learn how to not only talk to one another, but also listen to one another by learning, talking and listening skills. 

Learn more about the Gottman Method. 

People loved these workshops, and I loved seeing people connect through learning and using communication skills. Presenting this workshop was about my attending a weekend long training, working with at least 20 couples and taking a test showing proficiency to become certified as a teacher of Couple Communication. 

Currently, I am in the certification phase of becoming a Gottman Method Couples Counselor. Gottman Method Couples Therapy is an approach based on 40 years of research with thousands of couples. The certification process is not for the faint of heart! The training includes three levels of weekend long training, plus presenting four videos highlighting the expertise in using the Gottman Method. Moreover, you need to present proof of having treated couples for at least 100 hours. This process has taken me 3 years - and I’m not quite finished! 
My clients are benefiting from the Gottman Method counseling and I am benefitting from learning a new method and watching my clients blossom as couples.
This isn’t the end of my story as a marriage and family counselor. I have more to learn from both new methods of counseling and new clients and supervisees. This is just the end of the story of my first 38 years of counseling. 
Stay tuned.

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