Class of 2016 Resident Looks Back on Her Experience of ‘Sacredness’

Tashia Rice, a member of the CareNet Residency Class of 2016, asked to write about her time in residency and the profound impact it has had on her life’s work.

Much of what I learned in residency was untaught, but caught. Not to say I didn’t learn different modalities, theories, and the nuts and bolts of practice—I did. Yet in looking back and reflecting on what has remained, it has been the unspoken parts of formation that fashioned me into the quality of therapist I am today.

It was the ongoing invitation to trust intuition and gut and core and allow those internal cognitive and somatic places room in the art of working with another. It was the joy that was felt as we shared laughs and spaces and tears and food and table. That joy now rests in me as I meet the face of another, and it has morphed into my own mini-celebrations with my clients and coworkers over the small and large things.

It was the solemn sacredness of deep pain and hard questions and rough terrain trekked by my cohort and me that created new avenues, new paths and new understandings that today are a part of how I show up not just in my therapy office, but in the world.

It was the liminal spaces we sometimes recognized (and sometimes did not), the space between not yet and already there, the space between resident and novice counselor, the space between novice and seasoned counselor. And now I know to expect liminal spaces and to know that when I am in one of those times, there is no reason to fret, no need to rush through, but rather to erect a tent, pull up a chair and stay in that space awhile, for it’s OK to take inventory and stock of the right now.

I learned that we all share this Earth together, and on many of the days we are just doing the best we can with what we have, therapist and client alike. There are few distinctions between another’s issues and my own; rather, there are many more similarities. And that shows up in my therapy room like sitting on the floor, acknowledging the layers of privilege and power that I inherently have and laying them down between us for the sake of equity.

It is knowing that goals may be accomplished and checklists checked off and treatment plans finished, yet the most important thing will always be the connection between souls, the relational aspect that allows for one to give consent to engage in the dance of therapy. And that has been integrated into my work now, for many that I serve perceive the connection as ongoing, even if they are no longer on my schedule. There is shared awareness that our lives have been fundamentally changed for our having been in each other’s attentive presence.

I imagine I could keep going, for the things continue to flow and unfold, but these are enough for now. Suffice it to say it began with a group of six, plus Residency Program Director Russell Siler Jones, who were curious enough to explore what it meant to be formed as therapist together over a span of a couple of years. Those hands and feet and eyes and ears held my younger two tinies as babies, cried with me over my brother’s transition, and gave me challenging and encouraging feedback on the cases I brought. This cohort held up light and mirror and arms when things grew dim, when I could no longer see “me” for the storms, when overwhelm blew in. And I remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to have met and known them.

The quality of who I am continues to be altogether different from others in my field. And I know part of the difference is that I am identified as a former resident, a “Russell-lite” if you will. And that distinction has made a world of difference.

Tashia Rice, LCMHC-S, NCC, is a Child and Family Trauma Therapist at The Dragonfly House Child Advocacy Center in Mocksville, North Carolina, and is owner/practitioner at Bethany Life Counseling and Spiritual Care Center, PLLC in Cooleemee, North Carolina. She completed her master’s internship at CareNet before joining the residency program.