“Thanks for Listening”

“I’m not a therapist, a counselor, a social worker, a minister, or a psychologist. I’m not even a department chair. I’m a female professor at a research university, where faculty members and students — especially graduate students — regularly show up at my office, often after sending me a vague email asking if I have time to talk. And then they tell me things. Things that lead to tears…
The kinds of conversations I’m talking about are also different from general advising of students and junior faculty members about the content of academic work, career strategies, socialization into the academy, and such. The conversations I’m talking about, however, are the underbelly of that work. They can affect peoples’ careers and shape decisions about them…
The difference is also marked by the fact that these conversations occur in my office, at work, often with an appointment. They are work. They are invisible care-work…
The problem is: Listening, empathizing, problem solving, and resource finding take an enormous amount of time and energy. And there’s no place for any of that on a CV or in an end-of-the-year report because “it’s confidential, right?””