How Does Counseling Help?

How Counseling Helps

When the same things keep happening over and over, and you realize you're in a rut but don't know how to get out, talking with a counselor, can shed light on complex situations, and reveal why you're not getting the results you expect, untangle the knots, and start solving the solvable parts.

The tools we use every day may not be enough to get us through difficult situations. With our existing habits we may even be increasing conflict, and reducing our own satisfaction without realizing it. Counseling helps us review our present patterns, and find out what works and what doesn't. Perhaps we need to renew and revitalize old lessons we already know.

With a counselor we can brainstorm on options we hadn't thought of or don't know. By giving us information and coaching, counselors can show us how to manage anger, communicate our needs more clearly, negotiate for change, and soothe our own anxieties.

We may not realize how much we contribute to the situations and feelings that bother us. Our old patterns are so familiar and so deeply engrained they are invisible. And we're so close to the situation we tend to lose sight of our options. Counseling helps us turn the spotlight first onto understanding our role, and then onto the things we can change. Through this process, we extend our focus from what's happening to us, to what we can do about it.

One of the fastest and best ways we can learn about ourselves is by remembering how we got where we are. Remembering the past opens our eyes to insights about the present. By integrating the story of our self, including our family and childhood we become more whole and integrated. By learning who we are, we can work to become who we want to be.

One of the mysteries we can reveal about ourselves is to understand our own feelings. Many of us don't have clear labels for our feelings, and without knowing our feelings we may unknowingly be driven by them. Putting words to our emotions can help us decipher our own actions, as well as improve our communication with others.

When we're alone with complex and troubling issues we may not think as clearly and effectively as we would like. A counselor is a supportive ally, a hired member of our support team who can give us assistance when we need it.

We're only inside one person, and our vision of ourselves is limited by our blind spots and perspectives. When we describe our situation to a counselor, we open ourselves to another point of view. With a counselor, we explore every aspect of what we're going through in greater detail than we would with other people. And because the counselor is not a player in the drama, he or she has no personal stake in one side or another. The reflection of such an impartial observer shines a spotlight on the things we're trying to understand and helps us see ourselves from a more universal perspective than we could do on our own.

When we get stuck in a difficult situation with a mate, a child, or a co-worker, often the parties don't feel their side has been heard. Counseling coaches us to communicate more clearly, so we can be less defensive, and productively help each other resolve issues.

Self-help books, workshops, and tapes offer powerful ideas for growth. And yet, because these ideas are new and different from the way we have thought or behaved, we may have difficulty applying these principles in our own lives. Counseling can help us accelerate this process, working with us to fit new ideas into our world.