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Counselors Gathering

Posted on 12 Dec 2016 @ 10:06am by Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D. & Jadzia Melcox

Mission: History
Location: Main Counseling Offices, USS Black Hawk
Timeline: Backpost to Jadzia's's arrival

Finally, it was time for Jadzia to check in with her new co-worker. Pressing the door chime to Lieutenant Avery Stuart's office, she waited for a response.

"Come in," Avery called out, the doors automatically hissing open upon her command. She stood from her sofa where she had been reading and came around to create her visitor. She smiled politely and extended her hand upon seeing her visitor. "Hello. Counselor Melcox, I presume?" Stuart recognized the woman from the picture she had seen in her personnel file.

Shaking the other woman's hand, Jadzia smiled back pleasantly. "I am. And you're Counselor Stuart, right? It's a pleasure meeting you. I've been assigned here to augment your department because of recent events and I look forward to working with you."

"Likewise," Avery replied. "Yes, I'm Doctor Avery Stuart, Chief Counselor aboard the Black Hawk." She gestured for Jadzia to take a seat in one of her many available chairs. "I'm glad to have the support. Before we get talking shop too deeply, may I get you something to drink from the replicator?"

"No thanks. I'm sure I'll want a stiff drink by the end, but I'll hold off for now." Jadzia slipped into one of the offered chairs and waited with a smile for the inevitable questions she'd come to expect of everyone else in the field. Perhaps they'd be a bit more interesting this time, but Jadzia could only hope.

Avery frowned, clearly confused. "Did someone give you the impression I'd be difficult to get along with and you would need a drink afterwards?" It was certainly not the sort of response she expected and now she couldn't help but wonder if her new counselor had a chip on her shoulder.

"Not at all," Jadzia assured her. "I'm just used to hard questions about my past and my symbiont and the Borg and I expect you to have some rather personal questions on the matter as well. And I enjoy drinking after a lot of talking since nanoprobes dry out the tongue. I have nothing against you at all. Hell, I just met you. How could I?"

Stuart felt a bit more confident that it had been a misunderstanding, but her answer also indicated a certain emotional rawness just beneath the surface. "Depending on past experience, it's understandable that some people would be quicker to judge," Avery answered honestly. "I do have some questions, but it isn't my intention to open old wounds just to satisfy my personal curiosity. Perhaps it would be easier if you were to tell me what you'd like me to know about yourself and then we can go from there."

"Very well. I dropped out of Starfleet Academy with a level 8 pilot certification but with low grades in other areas and several disciplinary reprimands. From there I bounced around smuggling ships and made a decent name for myself. Then on a long range convoy to some remote Romulan outpost, the Borg attacked and tried to assimilate me. They found the symbiont and thought I was infected with parasites that would infect the rest of them and left me to die with half the normal implants. A Ferengi ship found me and tried to take me to a black market dealer, but a Federation scout ship discovered me and... negotiated... my release, treating my partial assimilation as best they could. After a year or two with them and some soul searching, I decided to go back to the Academy, but on a civilian path. After a year there, I got my honors as a counselor specializing in near death experiences. And here I am." Jadzia had a lopsided grin as she finished her little intro. "Oh and thanks to these nanoprobes, I can't get drunk anymore. They burn the alcohol away in minutes. A rare and annoying side effect. Caffeine has no effect either, coincidentally."

"You've overcome quite a lot," Avery replied with sincerity, "and yes, I do understand that's an understatement." Noting her last statement, she asked, "is that difficult for you? Not being able to drink alcohol and caffeine?"

"I can drink all I want. But yeah, the lack of effects is frustrating at times." Jadzia confirmed with a slight sigh. "I still drink like a fish though. I suppose I should find another avenue to vent frustrations, but there are worse things than being social and drinking."

"I appreciate your willingness to examine the healthiness of your coping strategies," Avery replied. "I don't expect any of us to be perfect at all times, but I do think it's important for counselors to set a good example for the rest of the crew. After all, people come to us for support and guidance concerning how to manage their problems, and it would be problematic to say the least if we were to say one thing on duty and to do another while off duty."

Stuart paused then, choosing her words carefully. "I also appreciate your candidness concerning what you've been through. In the interest of full disclosure, I would be lying if I said I wasn't interested in how you coped with all of that? I know from experience it can be challenging and sometimes nearly impossible to counsel others when I'm struggling with my own personal traumas, and I want you to know I'm available to lend an ear any time."

"I've actually written a journal about it. The computer has it, if you're interested in reading it. And thank you - I've found that counselors rarely have a counselor to talk to themselves." Jadzia smiled warmly, appreciating the offer.

Avery nodded with a smile. "Well, I'm certainly trying to create an environment where we can all lean on each other here. I'm sure I don't have to tell you we've enjoyed a lot as a crew cumulatively, but particularly after this last mission, so I've stressed the importance of self-care of late." She paused for a moment, switching gears. "My understanding based on your record is the Black Hawk is your first posting after civilian counseling training. I know how daunting first postings can be, especially when things don't always quite measure up to what you've learned in training. I'm curious what you believe your strengths are and what areas of your professional development you'd like to work more on?"

"Other than being an amazing pilot, I really don't know. I'm still trying to get used to the Borg implants, for one. The bottom line though, is that I want to help people that have been in pretty dire situations. I had some rather extra curricular training in that regard with my own situation, as you can imagine." Jadzia replied, doing her best to avoid the question. "If I need help though, you'll be the first to know."

"I appreciate that," Avery replied, "and I appreciate you being honest about areas of personal growth. Professionally speaking, are there any areas as a therapist that you would like to improve upon?"

"Just the generally vague answer of continued professional development as mandated by Starfleet. Seriously though, if it helps me be better equipped to help others, I'm for it." Jadzia replied with her usual charm.

It was a vague answer, and Avery wasn't sure if Jadzia was deliberately holding back or truly hadn't taken stock of her professional strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps the answer would come in time. "Alright, well, hopefully with more time and experience, you'll come up with more specifics. The staff and I meet weekly to discuss the progress of the people we're working with and to offer suggestions and support to one another. This shouldn't be much different from the supervision or case conferences you attended in training, but do you have any questions about that or anything else?"

Jadzia wasn't used to admitting she could get better or that she had failings as a pilot, but in this career she'd had to learn to analyze her own failings during training. She also had to come to terms with the fact that you can do everything perfectly right in every way and still lose - a fact of life that had resulted in the blinking LEDs and metalic bits on her face for all to see. It had been a traumatic, yet humbling experience. Thinking these things over yet again, her smile faded as she asked herself if she had any further questions. Finally settling on an answer to that, she shook her head no. "I can't think of anything for now. I'll be sure to come to you if I have any though."

Avery nodded and offered a gentle smile. "Great. I like to keep an open door policy for everyone here, so don't hesitate to reach out if you need to. No matter how experienced any of us are, we all have difficult cases we need guidance on from time to time."

"Group dynamics make everyone stronger like that," Jadzia replied, nodding her agreement before standing to excuse herself. "If you'll excuse me though, I have an appointment I need to prepare for."

"Certainly," Avery replied. "Welcome aboard," she added once more before taking her leave.


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