Whenever I talk about counseling, I get four different reactions from people:
- I don’t need to go.
- I’m not ready to go.
- I went and it didn’t work.
- I love my therapist and have been with him/her for years!
Which reaction do you relate the most with? I’ve been all four at some point in my life, but for the past ten years I’ve been a Number Four. Counselling is such a process…as is the decision to finally go to counselling. I’m a firm believer that we could all benefit from counselling because we are all broken, but not all of us are willing to admit that we need help, and that’s okay. It takes time…but here are a few things to consider when you think you are almost there…
- Humility – Acknowledging our brokenness and choosing to stop deflecting on and blaming others.
- Acceptance – Accepting our brokenness and no longer overcompensating for or hiding it.
- Vulnerability – We won’t be able to be vulnerable if we haven’t acknowledged and accepted our brokenness.
- Perseverance – Counseling is not a quick fix. It took us years to get where we are…it will take time to unwire our brains and to reframe our triggers.
- Celebration – Celebrating the victories and the days when we do the opposite of what we used to do to cope.
If you went to counseling and it didn’t work, one of two things happened: You either didn’t find the right counselor, or you really didn’t put in the work you needed to (and I’m saying this in SO MUCH LOVE, fam). Let me explain…
- Finding the right counselor: You really do need to connect and build trust with your counselor. If you don’t trust and respect your counselor, you will not be able to hear the hard things your counselor will have to say from time to time. And your counselor SHOULD be saying hard things. Counselling is not just a vent session. Yes, we do need to get things off of our chest and counseling is perfect for that. I vent ALL THE TIME in counseling. But I am also self-aware enough to know that my venting originates from my fear and anger, both of which are unhealthy and need addressed. So after I vent, I ask Kevin what needs to change about my perspective of whatever I am venting about. You need to find a counselor that has your best interests in mind and won’t tell you what you want to hear, but will be an advocate for you and your relationships. Not all counselors are equal and all counselors are fallible! So I always suggest that you find a counselor based on a referral from someone you know and trust. This is the best way to get in with someone that’s good. Also, check out my Scar Stories Podcast (also available on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts) with Megan Richardson for more tips on how to find a counselor and get started in counseling: Scar Stories: Megan Richardson, LFMT (Counseling) – YouTube
- Putting in the work: I truly believe that God can redeem any relationship (as long as it is safe – I want to be clear that we need distance and safety from abusive relationships) that we are willing to fight for. Some of us come into counseling looking to be told we are the victims and have the right to walk away. I have to tell you that wherever you go, there you are. In other words, if you don’t deal with YOUR brokenness, even if you walk away, your brokenness will follow you and start to rear its ugly head in your next relationship. You have to be willing to deal with YOURSELF. Nine times out of ten when we are dealing with relational conflicts, the crux of the problem is within us…and if we could humble ourselves and choose to be vulnerable no matter how uncomfortable it is, we will begin to see changes. but you HAVE TO TALK. Don’t go in with an attitude. Tell the counselor what you know the counselor needs to know. Fight the fear – you are safe! Counselors are trained to hear your mess and to help untangle your thoughts and emotions. This is the absolute best gift you can give yourself and your relationships.
I have to tell you, that when I first started in counseling, I was so hurt and angry and scared. But I was at an absolute dead end. This was my last resort and since it was, I was going to give it EVERYTHING I had, no matter what I felt inside. I fought HARD for myself – I knew so much of what I was facing relationally was because of the mess inside of me and if I could just get that sorted out, I would start to understand my relational conflicts better. I chose NOT to be the victim. I chose to OWN my brokenness and the roles I had played. I chose to forgive even when people didn’t ask for it. I chose to trust. I chose to surround myself in community with people who were fighting with me and for me. These were all choices I made. It took everything I had…but fam, I did it! And look at me now! If you only knew…
So…this is a question I ask regularly: What are you waiting for? It’s not enough to just get into counseling. You have to do the WORK. Are you willing? Are you ready? Honestly, what do you have to lose and why wouldn’t you? I’m asking for a friend…and you are THAT friend. Love you.