My job is so emotionally draining, yet the opportunity for reward is tenfold, especially this year. Normally a School Psychologist's primary function is to assess students for special education services (diagnosing learning disabilities, autism, emotional disturbance, etc.). But my particular position (started 2 weeks ago) calls for a huge caseload of counseling and providing general guidance for students diagnosed with Emotional Disturbance at the high school.
My perfect moment was today, when I had that golden slice of pure reward. I have an open door policy with my kids and one of the students I see came by and asked to speak to me. Many of these kids come from fragmented and dysfunctional backgrounds and this boy was no exception. After knowing him for just two weeks, I realized that he was already comfortable enough to slide into the seat across from me and unload everything without hesitation. He confessed what was troubling him and after some discussion, we formulated a plan together. He was so relieved to have someone understand that the wound up boy who walked through the door was then smiling, nodding, and thanking me.
While my situation as a child was a much more stable one in comparison, this boy and I share commonalities in some of the problems we've faced nevertheless. He doesn't know exactly why I understand him so well as I don't share personal information with my students, but I do. I remember that at his age, I longed to speak with someone who would understand my situation, perhaps someone who had been in it, but not knowing where to find that, I turned to a journal instead. Luckily, I was able to weather it without too much intervention, but helping this boy many years later is almost therapeutic for me as well. I can't think of a more perfect moment in my career when it becomes starkly clear that all of the exhaustion, heartache, and hard work I put into the job is beyond worth it.