When counseling will be most effective….

by Rod Smith

I am listening....

I am listening....

Conditions under which counseling or therapy will be of most value….

1. Neither client nor therapist exaggerates therapist’s abilities or the client’s condition.
2. Therapist sees role as helping client steer toward a more productive, healthy future.
3. Client sees the “big picture” over the “long haul” rather than immediate relief in the “here and now.” (Patience, patience, patience).
4. Client and therapist maintain a sense of humor (a sure indication of health) while facing life’s inevitable challenges. Not everything can or will be better no matter how much therapy you throw at it!
5. Client and therapist call forth the client’s strengths and the innate human desire for adventure, rather than engage in the seemingly endless pursuit to understand a client’s pathological history, weaknesses, parents’ weaknesses, and debilitating reasonable, and unreasonable fears.
6. Therapist and client understand the limited benefits of empathy in exchange for the overwhelming benefits of challenge and adventure.
7. Client realizes that psychological insight without action (acting upon the insight) is a waste of money, time and useful therapeutic process. Sometimes a person has to actually DO something rather than be filled with insight about what needs to be done.
8. Client is willing to increase the ability to tolerate necessary pain (both within self and within others) and resist the understandable pressure to alleviate the very pain essential for growth to occur.
9. Therapist challenges the client repeatedly toward self-definition (to grow up!) in the face of life’s natural obstacles.

Conditions under which counseling or therapy will be of little or no value…

Time and again I hear “If I could just get him/her to see a counselor” as if a counselor can work magic to heal and solve all personal and relationship problems. Few trained counselors would see themselves as possessing such unrealistic powers. Here are some conditions (there are others) under which even counseling will be of little or no value:

1. When a person is forced, or cornered, or manipulated into seeing a counselor.
2. When a person has no motivation for change.
3. When a person agrees to see a counselor because he/she believes counseling will “fix” someone else in the family.
4. When the person’s mind is already made up over and issue (a pending divorce, continued involvement in an affair) and goes to counseling so he/she can say he/she tried it and it was no help.
5. When a person is resistant to getting help (doesn’t see the need for help) and offers counselors little or no respect in the first place.
6. When the person is combative from the outset and sees the therapeutic hour as time to show how clever (or funny, or morose, or argumentative, or stubborn, or intellectual) he/she can be.
7. When the person has already made up his/her mind that there’s no hope (”we’ve tried it all before”) or that counseling is a waste of time and money.

7 Responses to “When counseling will be most effective….”

  1. According to these guys they wouldn’t need counseling

    (link removed by request)

  2. I like the points you make here.

    Counseling only works if the person who suggests it is going to it to work on themselves. Using it to support the desire to change someone else is a form of abuse, IMHO!

  3. Wow. This is really good! I’ll have to link to it as my readers seem to favor counseling as a solution to everything and this list is a fair and balanced look. It clarifies a few things in my own mind about the subject.

    D.

  4. Hi Rod, I just started counseling last week. I saw the counselor in the past, and liked working with him. This list is a good reinforcement that I want to utilize counseling to help improve obstacles in my life (primarily addiction). I am very hopeful that counseling can make a difference, but I think the counselor is a little less hopeful. He is pushing for inpatient rehab, which isn’t an option financially, but I do hope he leaves the door open to counseling, as it seems like it could be a huge help right now.

    Thanks,
    Rhea

  5. Thanks for writing, Rhea: my hope is for your complete wellness.

    Rod

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