Archive for August 2015

How to Get the Most Out of Counseling – Gideon Killion

It may surprise you to hear this, but the most important factor in making counseling successful is you — the client. That’s not to say picking a good counselor isn’t important, but what you bring to the session matters more. So, what can you do to make your counseling experience as helpful as possible?

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1. Be honest with your counselor and yourself.

As much as we might hope, not talking about something won’t keep it from being true, or from having an impact on us. It is usually better to be honest about something we don’t like about ourselves — even if we choose to accept it rather than change it — than to pretend it doesn’t exist. Here’s an example. I spent months working with a client named Mike, but after every session I scratched my head, wondering why he wasn’t making any progress. That is, until he revealed a secret that made change impossible. Only when we understood the role this secret was playing did change become possible.

2. Be responsible for your progress.

Counselors and therapists can’t “fix” us or give us “the answer.”  They can help us gain insight, process, heal, and grow, but we have to do the work. And it is work — often hard work — to make lasting change.

3. Be willing to change.

This may seem obvious, but some clients come to counseling to figure out how to get someone else to change, such as a spouse, a boyfriend, or a child. And sometimes we do need to ask people in our lives to change their behaviors, or to seek change in our life circumstances. But, ultimately, any significant change we wish to make in life begins with change in ourselves, since that is all we can control.

4. Do it for yourself.

Many people come to counseling because someone else has insisted. Sometimes it’s a spouse. Sometimes it’s a judge. But it’s usually a waste of time until we find our own reason to be there. One of my first clients, Alan, only showed up for couple counseling because his fiancée dragged him. He made sure to participate, but only enough to keep her off of his back. Not surprisingly, we made little progress. I don’t blame him for being uncomfortable or not wanting to be there, but if he was going to come — if he was going to spend his money and time — he could have used the opportunity to make his relationship more satisfying and meaningful.

5. Anticipate the change you desire.

Make it real with your imagination. Doing so will make it seem more possible, more tangible, and thus easier to achieve. Sometimes we fail because instead of dwelling on what we want to achieve, we imagine reasons why we can’t do it. Now, I am not suggesting that we should not anticipate the challenges we will face along the way and create plans to overcome them. But, all too often, we talk ourselves out of success.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you in your counseling journey.

Remember that you are the most important factor in creating the change you desire.

*All names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

 

About the Author: Gideon Killion is an intern counselor in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. He also has a private counseling practice at www.lifecraftcounseling.net.

Getting Out of My Own Way – Lydia Taft

I’ve been riding the emotion of impatience.  I have set my intention toward a desired goal and now I find myself constantly checking to see where the manifestation is.  It reminds me of when I first learned to bake.  I’d place the cookies or cake in the oven and then want to open it to see what they were doing.  Were they rising?!  Well they were until I opened the oven! Of course I was helped later in life by having an oven door with a glass window and oven light.  I smile at myself and realize how very helpful the light is.  My mind wanders to imagining that oven light as a symbol of Spirit’s love and I am reminded that trust and faith are essential to my life journey. 

Love lights my path and guides me to each new experience. 

It is not essential that I peek and make sure things are happening — they will.  Life always unfolds. When I keep trying to peek at the progress I am slowing up the manifestation of my desires.  When I make what’s missing the focus of my attention I always get more of what’s missing.

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I realize this is a difficult concept.  I know this from experience.  When I want something I want it and I want it quickly.  It’s very simple.  The trick is getting out of the way so I can receive it.  My mind will want to analyze the situation.  It will want to justify why I deserve what I want.  It will want to prove to me that I am worthy of what I want.  It might even point a finger at others saying if not for them I’d have it already. 

I listened to a spiritual teacher this morning.  She was reminding me that the universe is always for me.  It is always supporting me.  When I hold to my beliefs and opinions of all that is wrong in life, I delay the good from entering my space.  It’s like holding up an umbrella in a rain storm.  In my attempt to hunker down and block out discomfort, I also block myself from seeing the good that follows the storm.  If I keep holding that umbrella up, I will block out all of the light.  At some point it becomes time to put the umbrella down.

My only job is to receive the good. 

My only job is to maintain the emotional climate that I desire to feel and experience.  What would I prefer to feel, I ask myself?  This question is always very easy to answer. 

6 Common Types of Counseling and Psychotherapy – Gideon Killion

Whether you are already working with a counselor or psychotherapist, or are still trying to figure out whether you want to, you may be bewildered by the many different kinds of psychotherapies that are available. I certainly am — and I went to counseling school! So, I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief description of a few of the most common ones. There is certainly much more to these therapies than I can cover in a blog, but perhaps when you see one of these terms in the future, you will have some sense of what it means. I’ll start with six of the most common types.

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  1. Psychoanalytic Therapy

Originally created by Sigmund Freud, and developed since by many others, this is the oldest tradition of psychotherapy. It encompasses psychodynamic therapy, depth psychology, and Jungian analysis, as well. It has given us concepts such as the id, ego, and superego, not to mention the cliché of the therapeutic couch. The goal of psychoanalytic therapy is to help clients uncover their unconscious motivations, thoughts, feelings, and conflicts. The therapist offers the client a safe environment in which to talk about his or her problems. The therapist will probably pay particular attention to childhood events, and may also analyze or interpret the client’s dreams and free associations.

 

 

  1. Gestalt Therapy

This is an experiential therapy, initially developed by Fritz and Laura Perls. Gestalt theory teaches that psychological problems are the result of people having fragmented selves, where some aspects are unacknowledged or disowned. Healing occurs through increased awareness, acceptance, and integration of all the parts of one’s self, particularly the parts that have been hidden or rejected. Awareness increases through contact with the present moment during the therapy session. The therapist may point out the incongruity in a client’s words and behaviors, suggest that the client role-play a dialogue between conflicting parts of him or herself (aka the “empty chair technique”), or ask the client to act out an unresolved situation from the past.

 

  1. Person-Centered Therapy

Also known as client-centered therapy, this approach was pioneered by Carl Rogers. It is a humanistic therapy that believes people will naturally grow and find solutions to their problems when they experience a relationship with a therapist who is genuine, warm, accepting, understanding, and empathetic. A person-centered therapist will usually let the client lead the conversation, while communicating these traits to the client. The therapist may also use his or her responses to help the client become aware of conflicting statements.

 

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most widely used forms of psychotherapy. It was pioneered by Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and Donald Meichenbaum. According to this theory, problematic emotions and behaviors are produced or at least maintained by dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. Clients change as they learn to recognize, challenge, and replace dysfunctional thought patterns with functional ones. A CBT therapist may ask clients to keep a journal of their thoughts, so that they can be examined. The therapist may challenge the client’s beliefs via Socratic questioning, suggesting alternative possibilities, or encouraging the client to conduct experiments to test their beliefs in the real world.

 

  1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan as a treatment for suicidal clients, but has become known for its effectiveness in treating Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT sees problematic behaviors as a person’s best attempt to adapt to his or her (often painful) experience. The goal of DBT is to help clients replace these behaviors with more effective coping and relating skills. Clients participate in both individual and group therapy to learn and practice mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and effective ways of relating to others.

 

  1. Narrative Therapy

This post-modern approach to therapy recognizes the way in which people’s experiences are shaped by the narratives, or stories, they create to make sense of their lives. Dysfunctional patterns of behavior are created and reinforced by stories that rob people of their power to choose and act. Positive change occurs as they replace these stories with ones that are more affirming and empowering. A narrative therapist will help the client deconstruct his or her current story by identifying exceptions and alternatives, and by helping the client view his or her problems as external to the client’s identity. Once this has been done, the therapist helps the client to create a new, more empowering life story.

 

I plan to describe a few more types of therapy in a future blog post. But, hopefully the six short descriptions I provided today will be meaningful the next time you read or hear about one of these approaches to psychotherapy.

 

Gideon Killion is an intern counselor in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. He also has a private counseling practice at www.lifecraftcounseling.net.

 

On the Edge of Creation – Lydia Taft

Today I am very aware that I am being led.  Everything is changing around me and I see that I am being moved.  I’m on a journey and I’m heading somewhere.  Spirit calls me forward.  I know this, because when life gets this messy, no one but Spirit can possibly be in charge.  But, I am both the pawn and the player in this life.

It’s all a matter of my perspective.  Sometimes I am dragged forward kicking and screaming, resistant to letting go of my limitations and beliefs about how life ought to be.  Other times, I jump right on board, trusting that I am loved and that Spirit always guides me toward my own greatest good.  Sometimes when things feel at rest I find myself asking: Now where am I? Who am I? What am I meant to do with what’s in front of me?

Just watch it unfold, Spirit will answer.  Don’t stand in judgment of it, don’t over analyze it.  Look for the fun in it.  Find the beauty of Creation’s hand in it.  Peer around the corner and expand into your newest you.  Expect that it’s going to be great.  This is a fast moving ride. So jump on board and prepare to have fun.

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Ride to the leading edge of creation and thrill at the unknowing of it all.  Use your mind as the tool that you have been given, to think of the possibility that is in front of you.  Use all of your senses to experience the pure joy of life.  Focus in on the energy of creation and flow with transformation into the next greatest being you desire – your highest Self.

Remember this: life is a journey and it is meant to be fun.  It is active and dynamic and expansive.  It always, in all ways, leads to the next greatest thing and next greatest thing.  And all you have to do is take the ride. Hang your head out the window and let the wind hit your face.  Savor the sights, inhale the zest, taste and thrill in your freedom to experience.  Howl in the pure ecstasy and pleasure of it, all the while expanding into the unknown and becoming your greatest Self ever.

There is no end to this journey.  You are always on the edge of creation.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth