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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Sondra


 

When residing in Amarillo, Texas, having transferred to a new high school for my sophomore year, I initially didn’t have very many friends. At my previous school, I kept a low profile as well.

 

Still, while having lived in a children’s home from half of seventh to ninth grade, with frequent instances of moving up until that time, I was used to not having stable friendships. With the family who took me into their home during my sophomore year, I’d hoped things would be different.

 

The high school to which I transferred was known for its wealthier class of students and I didn’t fit into that category. As well, having experienced significant and sustained trauma in childhood, I didn’t believe I could relate to teens at the new school.

 

Therefore, I sought out those with similar backgrounds by spending time with adolescents in other school districts. It didn’t take long for me to discover a group of people who had either dropped out of school, partially attended class by court mandate, or who were too old for enrolment.

 

Most members of that group were gang-affiliated. Since I didn’t officially join a set (subcategory of a larger gang), I could freely associate with gang members in other school districts.

 

Hence, I spent little time interacting with students at the high school to which I transferred. Although I don’t recall why I was initially referred to meet with a high school guidance counselor, I recall that four female counselors divided students according to sections of the alphabet.

 

My school guidance counselor’s name was Sondra, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) to my knowledge. It didn’t take much time to establish a strong therapeutic alliance with her, because I thought she was authentically compassionate and Sondra didn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t.

 

At that time, I interpreted the behavior of a number of adults as insincere. Whether or not they were disingenuous actors, I determined that they were like plastic (artificial) and not to be trusted.

 

On the other hand, Sondra appeared to genuinely care about my well-being. On a number of occasions, she expressed concern with my afterschool activities. For instance, she wasn’t shy about questioning why I carried a beeper.

 

Back then, the occurrence of teenagers with communication devices wasn’t commonplace. An adolescent with a beeper was likely involved in some sort of criminal activity, which I was.

 

As well, when frequently sent to the principal’s office for talking in class or for graffiti I’d drawn on homework assignments, I was allowed to first visit with Sondra so that she could smooth things over for me. I appreciated that she intervened on my behalf.

 

Still, I didn’t fully divulge details about my lifestyle to my guidance counselor. Limits of confidentiality being what they were, I didn’t inform her of the fact that I had a fist load composed of nickels and a pocket knife on me during most times when at school.

 

Likewise, I didn’t put her in the predicament to where she’d have to report me for carrying other weaponry to school or for holding drug contraband for other students who were sent to principal’s office for disciplinary measures. Even still, I sensed that Sondra somehow knew I was guarded with her.

 

Over the course of the three years I spent at that high school, Sandra attempted to help me establish a forward-thinking perspective. I didn’t think I’d live to see the age of 19, nor did I care to.

 

However, she expressed belief in my ability to better myself. As an example, she convinced me to sign up for and attend meetings with the minority club—an extracurricular group of non-white students who were afforded extra attention regarding mentorship.

 

Also, during times when my beliefs about life resulted in self-disturbance, Sondra would offer a hug as a matter of self-soothing. Sometimes, I’d stop by her office just to hug her as she’d offer words of encouragement.

 

During my senior year, when I was eventually kicked out of the home of the family who took me in, Sandra smoothed things over with administrative personnel concerning my daily tardiness. Having moved back to the children’s home and refusing to transfer to a different school, I walked to school daily.

 

It took two and a half hours for a one-way commute by foot. With approximately half of the school year to go, I walked a total of five hours daily when I couldn’t convince people to give me a ride.

 

Sondra would meet me with a smile and a hug when intermittently showing up to her office, as we sometimes didn’t say much to one another following my lengthy treks to school. On colder mornings, when my feet were numb, I was allowed to sit outside of her office and warm up before attending class.

 

Eventually, graduation day came. Sondra wasn’t able to convince me that continuing forward with my education was in my best interest, so we parted ways with my sincere gratitude having been expressed to her.


My senior photo

 

For a relatively brief period of time following graduation, I moved back to Aurora, Colorado where I’d lived from half of fifth to half of seventh grade. Returning back to Amarillo with a plan to join the United States Marine Corps, I visited Sondra and discussed my plan.

 

Though she was no longer my guidance counselor, I was met with a hug and encouragement. Sondra expressed hope for my future while not refraining to advocate that I continue moving away from the criminal ways of my past.

 

After graduating Marine boot camp, I again visited Sondra and expressed how she had a partial role in changing my life. Not only was I a Marine, I was headed to military police school. To my recollection, that was the last time I met with her.

 

Now, I’m an LPC and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This career path didn’t occur by accident. After all, it was Sondra who supported me by suggesting that for Career Discovery Day during my senior year of high school, I could attend a behavioral health hospital.

 

She knew that besides communicating with gangsters, I briefly used my beeper as a crisis support line. As well, I’d coached minors and adults for a number of years by the time I entered the high school at which she worked.

 

Sondra told me I’d be an asset to the mental, emotional, and behavioral health field during a time when I didn’t believe I was worth much. To this day, I remain appreciative for the time and attention my former high school guidance counselor devoted to me.

 

Now, when I have difficult sessions with clients, I think of how hopeful an experience it was to have Sondra’s influence in my life. If I can provide even a fraction of that rational hope and support to others, I will have considered the challenging aspects of my employment well worth the time.

 

Still, even if I ultimately fail miserably at this aim, I will unconditionally accept that result. Irrespective of the outcome, I remain grateful for Sondra.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

References:

 

Hollings, D. (2022, November 18). Big T, little t. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/big-t-little-t

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Hope. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/hope

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2024, March 27). Everything’s gonna be alright. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/everything-s-gonna-be-alright

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2024, March 27). Plastic people. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/plastic-people

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2024, January 11). Therapeutic alliance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/therapeutic-alliance

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unconditional-acceptance

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