Posts Tagged ‘professionalism’

You Look Good!

August 20, 2017

He said to me after giving me a great big hug, “where you been, I’ve missed you?”

Interning, working, getting ready for school, prepping for Burning Man.

Oh the list of stuff.

“You like?” I said, and stepped back to let him admire my look, “I therapized today, so I was dressing for the occasion.”

“I love,” he said, then continued, “you were what?”

I told him I had clients today, I had group supervision, I wanted to dress the part, the therapist part that is, I want to look like a professional.

“You look good! It’s totally working for you,” he finished, “glad you made it tonight.”

And so was I.

And I was happy that I made an impression.

Maybe it’s just me, but I really want to give an air of being a professional, I want to be respected  and I want to set a tone for my clients, I’m not super serious and I’m not uptight, I am warm and friendly and empathetic, but I also want to send a clear message.

I am an authority and I am going to dress like one.

On the other hand.

Holy fucking shit.

Some of the people who work with me are not as concerned with their appearance.

Or their body smells.

Fuck my mother.

It was a shock today to walk into my office and be overwhelmed and I mean, overwhelmed, with the smell of rotting socks and foul shoes.

The intern before me had done a session with his client in his socks.


I sort of understand, it was a child client, I will happily get down on the floor with a child, I will, getting on a child’s level is crucial, I would and have done sessions sitting on the floor with a kid.

I have never taken off my shoes for a session with a kid, but hey, sure I could, if I felt that it was of service to the session.



Not if my feet smell like bad molding cheese.

God damn.

I am not over exaggerating, even if I have a tendency toward the dramatic, I am not being dramatic, it was bad.

So bad that an hour later when my group supervisor and the rest of the interns coming in for our 2p.m. session, noticed it, complained and opened the windows wider.

I shared with one of the interns about why it smelled that way and that the room also had not been vacated on time, the therapist had gone over with his client.

I was livid.

I had the room assigned to me and I had a consult waiting in the hallway.

I understand that I am working in a community mental health facility, but fuck, people, professionalism.


There is something therapeutic about what I am modeling for my clients by showing up on time, by presenting a clean persona, by having a nice outfit on.

I don’t have to be dressed to the nines, but I present nicely.

I mean, I am a professional nanny during the day, I run around with a four-year old and a seven-year old and I am constantly juggling a baby–which is great, I joke often that I am emitting baby smell which has to be a therapeutic smell if there ever was one–who sometimes burps up milk or mashed carrot on me.


I have back up clothes at work.

I have nanny shoes.

I have therapy shoes.

I bring in my nice clothes, I change, I put on my therapy shoes, I tidy my hair, I make sure that there’s no burp residue on me, I refresh my lipstick before I hop on my scooter and zip to my internship after my day job has ended.

I pull it together.


I am done ranting.

I guess I have just been taken by surprise a few times by the lackadaisical attitude of some of the interns.

I take what I am doing so fucking seriously, I want to be good.

I mean.

Really good.

I am proud of what I have accomplished and it feels good to give it acknowledgement.

I had hot pink hair when I started my Masters of Psychology program.

I have a lot of tattoos.

A lot.


I dressed flamboyantly, glittery makeup, big flowers in my hair.

A little faux queen if you will.

Big hair.

Big personality.

And I love that about myself, that I can pull out a fabulous costume from my closet and do it up, but I remember quite distinctly when I began the process of interviewing for practicum that I wanted to present a bit more polished.

I went and got a good hair cut.

I went back to my natural color.

I hadn’t been my “natural” hair color in god only knows how many years.

Purple, magenta, green, blue, yellow, hot pink, cotton candy pink, rainbow sherbert, name a color I had it.

I stopped painting my nails super dark colors.


I still do now and again, but I tend towards a neutral manicure now.

I toned down my clothes, I got some good clean, easy dresses from the Gap and a couple from Asos, that I could layer with a classic black cardigan.

I softened my makeup.

I almost never wear winged eyeliner anymore and I don’t wear glitter.


Maybe a tiny bit of sparkle, but it’s so subtle now, you might not notice it at all.

I stopped wearing flowers in my hair.

I still have them.

I will wear them at Burning Man.

I will have a wild hair parade everyday out there, I will wear flowers and ribbons and hats and fascinators and I will have fabulous makeup and flamboyant dresses.

I will wear fucking antlers on my head.

See if I won’t.


Not when I have a session with a client.

I like this refined me.

It feels adult.

I like wearing heels and nice button down shirts and expensive jeans and soft, clean makeup, I still wear hoops, but not the super gigantic ones anymore.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m an attractive woman and I have unique features and my hair is always going to be wild, but it’s just wild brown curls now not hot pink curls, and well, the tattoos, they will always be there and there will probably be another one or two add to the mix.

I am never not going to be noticeable.

But fuck me.

I will be professional.

And that’s my business.

I don’t have to judge how others do it, even though, shit, half this blog was all about judging mister stinky feet and the sloppy ass interns in t-shirts and dirty jeans, but I do get to process it out here.

So that when I interact with them.

I can be professional.


I am.

I am a psychotherapist.

And I will dress like it because it pleases me to do so.

So there.


Wait a Second!

June 27, 2013

I am a professional.

As such, my time is valuable.

I don’t have to sit and hold time for you if you can’t confirm for me whether or not you’ll need me until you “suss” things out.

You want me, you pay me to hold that spot.

Well, for Pete’s sake.

It took my fucking long enough to figure this out.

I am learning, it does take some time, but I am learning.

Part of the learning curve for me was seeing a recognizable pattern and doing a quick mental inventory, a spot check inventory, if you will.

What was I resentful about?

What was I in fear of?

What was holding me back from saying what I need?

Oh yeah, and they cannot read your mind, so unless you tell them, they are going to continue to ask you last-minute to cover shifts.

I have a family, not my primary one(s) who change their plans around a lot and it drives me a little bonkers.  They have sent me some texts recently about possibly working some hours and they changed their minds a lot, we need you, we don’t need you, we’re coming, we’re not coming, wait, we are, and are you also available….



I am a professional.

I am self-employed.

If you don’t have the hours to give, fine, I will find them somewhere else, but stop being wishy-washy.


Then, I heard a little voice, “if you’re a professional, start acting like one.”


Well, what does that look like?

Number one, my time is valuable (god how many of my friends need to point this out to me before I see it for myself?) and I am worth my pay.

If you are a therapist or a hair dresser or a tattoo artist, a masseuse, or any number of folk who happens to provide a service (um, nanny anyone?) and your client cancels on you, they get charged for the cancellation if it happens to be too late for you to re-book that time.

Most folks have a 24 hour cancellation policy.

I can have one too!

I mean, this is a revelation, I just realized it today on my bike ride home as I was having an internal discussion with the family that sent me a text late in the day about not being sure how the evening was gong to go and they were needing to figure out the details and could they just get back to me in the morning?



Xo my ass, you’re trying to manipulate me by being nice, keep me in limbo and, and, and, my brain was ramping up to get angry.

Wait a second.

I have to communicate my needs.

Jesus fuck, who is this person?

And can I keep her around?

So, I got back to the house after having a few more epiphanies on the ride (it’s seven miles, there’s time) and sent the mom a text saying I had to have 24 hours advance notice to have my time booked.  I was not going to be available.

I breathed in deep and let it fly into the air, carried through the wires by small electronic birds, and let go of the results.

“What if they get upset?” My brain was all curious.

“Who cares,” I replied.  They are not the last nanny gig on the block and I am assured, through faith, experience, and well, the fact that I am constantly being asked if I am available, that there will be others should they get upset about it.

The next thing I realized about being a professional, thing number two, if you will, is that I don’t have to justify my time, how I spend it and what I am working on.

I may just have some spiritual work to do.

I don’t get paid for it in dollars, but the pay off is extraordinary and I have to do it on a daily basis.

This is not to say that I don’t need the dollars, I do, but I don’t have to explain my outside commitments and the work is just as valid.

Or the work may might be writing my blog.

I had one of my room mates ask for a favor I was not comfortable with doing and I did not know how to respond.

So I did not and she came up with an alternative to her dilemma.

Not my problem to fix or solve.

But I had to have a conversation about it and I had to justify, all in my head of course, why I was not available and how I did not want to do that errand for her that late at night in West Oakland.

No thank you.

Especially after doing a 7 mile bike ride home after a full day of work.

Albeit glorious work, my little girl charge is back from vacation and it was such a love fest I am a little embarrassed by it, not really.

What I realized is that I could have just sent a text saying “let me get back to you,” or “no, I am not available.”

But I was too worried about what she would think and needing to justify myself, and wait a minute, my fucking time is important.

I do have a job to do, I have a blog to write and I have photographs to post and I have a life and it does not, tonight anyway, have extraneous time in it.

I don’t have to explain any of it.


Freedom–“willingness without action is fantasy”.

Fuck, I am finally getting it, if I don’t ask for it, it’s all in my head, ie, fantasy.

It takes some time and work and I still have loads of practice and repetition to get comfortable doing it.

But I still need to ask for what I need.

Which reminds me I have to touch base about the house sitting/cat sitting I am going to do in Cole Valley this weekend and get squared away on what I need to be paid–they can’t read my mind–and unless I tell them they will assume that it’s a vacation for me to stay in their lovely home and I will get mad at myself and eat their cookies.

Not going to do it.

My time is valuable.

I am allowed to be compensated well for it.

It only took me 40 years to figure that out.

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