It all started when I was at a meeting with my mother-in-law. She was invited due to her background in sailing. There were four of us, myself, my wife, my mother-in-law, and the executive director. The vision was to create a sailing program for kids that were from at-risk environments. That’s how it started.
From there a number of volunteers got involved, but none of them were counselors or had a background in therapy. Some would say that it just fell into my lap, but those folks missed all the steps that came together in that moment.
Build a base
When you have an idea of what you might love in work, you have to take steps to align yourself with the standards of your field, understand the box that you are working in, and seek to master those accepted principles. I built a background in experiential education focused on team building and experiential approaches to therapy. I practiced those skills at every job that I had. In doing this, I learned what worked and didn’t work. Over the years I began training other counselors.
When the moment comes
There will be a moment, whether created by you or something you don’t expect, and you may be able to begin to form an approach to do more of what you love. I found that in each job role I could weave aspects of experiential team building into my counseling experience, while still be within the boundaries of my agency or organization.
Measure, measure, measure
From the front end of any new project it is helpful to get permission from participants to measure and document as much as you can. The first year of the SAIL Champion program we documented what the youth, parents, and workers thought about the youth’s starting point, we then did follow-up surveys. Over the years we have noticed that there is a 70-80% in symptoms that tend to sustain at around 50% through the coming year. Over 95% of youth have stayed off probation. After that first year, Rotary Charities of Traverse City gave us a three-year grant for $60,000.
Ask your current employer
If you are a good worker that does amazing work, is creative, and seeking new ways to expand the field of counseling, or whatever your respective business, your employer will want to keep you around. I integrated this job into my last three summers as part of my full-time job. It was great promo for them and usually they got some compensation from those purchasing the program. Creative solutions usually lead to a better and more fulfilling job.
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC has been paid to sail for the past four summers. 2013 will be his fifth season of sailing and doing counseling. What will you do? Comment below and tell him!