I’m Mike. A mental health counsellor, and entirely unrepentant nerd. These aren’t exclusive ideas. For ages I thought they were. I thought I’d crossed the line by having a Pokemon as my practice mascot. But for anyone who understands the significance of Sylveon, or has watched my video on the topic, you’ll know exactly what I’m saying whenever you see a Sylveon in something I make.
In training courses and at university, we’re told to be authentic to a degree, and present ourselves professionally. There’s even been judgmental comments in therapist groups about people who wear jeans or a t-shirt to work. But what does that mean for people whose authentic expression doesn’t really match traditional professionalism?
“Nerd. One whose unbridled passion for something defines who they are as a person, without fear of other people’s judgment.”Zachary Levi
At the start of September I created a blog – The Nerd Therapist. It’s a resource page which explains children’s media and popular culture to therapists and other child-serving professionals. Due to the demands of professional life and personal interest, there aren’t many people in the field who do nerdy things, but might work with the people that do. As a nerd and a therapist, I’ve been able to riff and banter with the young people I work with because we have a shared culture, and narratives. I’ve helped other clinicians understand the people they work with who rely on these narratives to express themselves.
Within five days I had a hundred followers, a handful of requests from therapists to help understand their clients, and a job offer.
Within the month I had a thousand followers, several invitations to coffee meetups, a radio spot, and a whole host of awesome conversations about mental health and popular culture.
This experience has been surreal. The interest, and the conversations I’m having about The Nerd Therapist project, has taken me completely by surprise. I expected criticism and negativity, but I’ve received nothing but enthusiasm and support. And this has been so invigorating, so empowering and affirming that I’ve never been so energised while working in the field.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”Steven Pressfield
But in the back of my mind, anxiety – Resistance, as Pressfield puts it – tells me that this is unprofessional. That it’s silly, and I’m projecting. And when resistance rears its ugly head, I know I’m going the right way. This isn’t Suit and Tie, Boardroom Professionalism. This is professionalism in the form of meeting the clients where they are. And I don’t need to step into their world – because I’m already part of it.
I’m meeting resistance, and I’m going to break through it.
Whatever happens, I’ve already won. I will continue to win every time someone sees my example and feels the freedom to be their own flavor of freak, and express themselves unapologetically.Yvie Oddly
I’m following my own advice – living with passion and authenticity. I’m creating resources for clinicians – and the first one isn’t far away from being released. I’m bringing tabletop roleplaying games into the therapy room. I’m no longer afraid of looking unprofessional – because I’m no longer ashamed of being The Nerd Therapist.
So I’m doing a little rebrand, as you may have noticed. Counselling with Mike – The Nerd Therapist. Combining who I am, with what I do, in the hopes that I can speak to the hearts of everyone out there who has felt like they’re not understood or accepted because of the books they read, the movies they watch, or the games they play.
Good vibes and victory