Tuesday, December 1, 2015

But what is Counseling?

Many people ask me what I do for a living and when I say, "Well, I'm a therapist" the typical response is usually something like, "we all need therapy" (with a laugh of course) or "oh, you work with all the crazies?" (again, usually with a sarcastic laugh)... but I don't think anyone really knows what therapy is unless you try it.  But where to begin? 

They had one thing right, we all do need therapy.  Not because we are all crazy (well, we may all have a little crazy in us in some way, shape or form) but because we all need a person to talk to.  Someone who is not involved in our lives directly and someone who will GUIDE us in the right direction.  Why is GUIDE in capital letters, because the common misconception is that therapist give advice.  I remember my first day of my Masters program at the University of Detroit Mercy and my professor told us to always remember one thing, "NEVER give advice!".... What?!? But I thought that's all I will be doing?  Boy, was that a shocker.  Then she gave me the reasoning behind this statement.  Let's say I give great advice (and most of my friends will agree that I do) and my advice was spot on; You did it, you succeeded and now you want more. Well, then I have just created an unhealthy attachment.  You will want to come to me for everything and eventually, like all people, my good advice will run out.  So then what?  Let's say I give you bad advice.  You take it, it fails miserably and now you come storming into my office blaming me for what happened.  Again, I just created an unhealthy attachment (or detachment, depending on how you look at it).  So, this is why I say a counselor should always be GUIDING you.  

That's the first part of understanding what will be happening when you do go to counseling. Guidance and support can really go a long way.  Most people are scared to open up to someone they don't know and I can relate to that.  I gave my first counselor a real run for his money, but eventually that trust builds and that relationship (I use that term loosely) flourishes into something very beneficial. 

So first order of business... Find a Counselor you think you can benefit from... Look at their specialties, read reviews on line, talk to others and get a referral from a family member or friend.  That's my "advice"... take it for what it is.