Posts tagged ‘Therapy’

The Power of Contrast ll by Erin Amundson

The Power of Contrast
By Erin Amundson

   As I was leading an online dream group this past fall, something fascinating happened.  Just as we were entering the part of the group where everyone is on the brink of a wonderful, desired transformation, every single member of the group came up against resistance.  In fact, for the first time in the three years I’ve been facilitating dream groups, almost every member of the group canceled for our next session.

   I’ve seen this before.  Often in my one on one work with people. 

Just as we are getting to what I call the good stuff, clients cancel.

   Given my extensive history with my own resistance, I tend to be understanding and usually do my best to invite them back where we can chat about what came up. Every time, without fail, I see that those who do come back find that the experience of transformation brings them exactly what they want and need. 

I’m not saying it’s easy – in fact, many times it can feel emotionally excruciating.

   However, I believe there’s a way to make it less difficult by working with contrast or the tension of opposites.  Let me walk you through it. 

   The tension of opposites is often what clients feel just before a big breakthrough.  There is usually strong desire for growth or freedom and often equally strong feelings of resistance that create avoidance.  The result of this for most people is either backing away from the growth, which means staying wounded or limited, OR pushing through the resistance to the next level, regardless of the impact.  In my work with the dream group recently, I’ve come to consciously understand a strategy I’ve used for years with clients one on one.  This strategy is to shift our focus from the tension we feel to the power that contrast can bring us. 

   There are many examples of this in psychotherapy.  A client with a difficult childhood may both love and hate a parent who was inconsistent or abusive.  Clients often feel both fear and excitement in the venture of a desire, such as a new relationship or a career promotion. 

In dreamwork, our subconscious images feed us both nightmares and “good” dreams. 

   In all of these examples, I’ve found that the ability to hold both emotions with reverence and respect offers a pathway to our whole selves that we cannot otherwise connect to. 

   This means that the client who invites both the love and the hatred of the parent into her experience engages a new balance in the relationship to the parent (and probably better boundaries, too).  The person who invites the fear to speak to him before engaging the new relationship has the opportunity to understand a part of him that may need healing and will make the relationship better.  And the dreamer who engages the nightmare has the opportunity to work out a trauma or deep subconscious fear.  All of these processes bring freedom to my clients. 

   Consider this.  Imagine that you are on the brink of a new level of self-expression (as many of you truly are!).  It is going to be a natural part of your experience to fear this on some level, because you are heading into uncharted territory. 

As humans, we fear what we don’t know or can’t predict. 

   Now, I assume that what you want in this situation is the courage to plunge forward into this new and improved you.  Faced with this dilemma, it is human nature to do one of two things: DENY that you have fear and suppress it moving forward regardless, or DENY your new level of self-expression through some form of sabotage in order to stay SAFE. 

   While I preferred the first of these two responses for much of my own life, I’ve discovered that neither response provides most of us a grounded, nourishing, supportive way of experiencing growth in life.  If you deny your fear, a key part of your human existence is left behind, and left unhealed.  Typically, this fear (which is totally VALID) is expressed later on in unhealthy ways. 

   The answer, I have found, starts with telling the truth.  First, to yourself.  The truth about how we feel is not openly encouraged in this culture.  For a lot of people, it’s really hard to admit that their parents caused them pain.  It’s also hard to admit sometimes that you want more out of life.  We’ve just begun to really talk about fear and vulnerability in the last few years.  How many times have you responded with “I’m feeling really insecure” when someone asks how you are?  It’s rare. 

   I’m not saying that we should all suddenly start expressing ourselves freely.  Sometimes it’s not safe to do so.  Other times, we only think it’s not safe.  Therapy is a wonderful place to work this out.  The key is a feeling of safety in expressing and embracing our “less desired” emotions.  When you do, you’ll find the power of contrast in your own life.  

 


   

   Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

   After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

   Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

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.

Therapy for the Uninitiated and Intimidated: 9 Things to Expect in Counseling – Gideon Killion

If you’ve never tried counseling or psychotherapy before, you may be a little worried about what it will be like. You may even be a lot worried. Will it be awful? Like a job interview, but with more crying?

You do not have to cry. Not if you don’t want to. But if you do, it’s okay. Counseling is certainly a good place for crying; your counselor won’t think less of you (and has a box of tissues ready). But… crying is not a requirement.

So, what can you expect?

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There are many different sorts of counselors, and many different sorts of therapy, but you can be fairly certain of a few things:

 1. There will be a counselor.

2. There will be a chair. Or a couch. Something for you to sit on, anyway.

3. There will be some talking.

Feel better? Not yet? Ok, here are some more things to know about counseling:

 4.You do not have to do anything you do not want to do.

Everything that happens in counseling is voluntary. The counselor may ask you questions, or suggest that you do things, but it’s up to you. You can say “Yes,” and you can say “No.” Of course, how much you get out of counseling will depend on how much you participate.

5. You can ask questions.

If you’re wondering why the counselor is asking certain questions, or suggesting certain activities, or if you want to understand your counselor’s methods in general, ask! By law, you have the right to ask for and receive information about the theory, process, and methods your counselor uses, as well as his or her qualifications.

6. The counselor will ask you questions.

The counselor will ask you about the issue that brings you to counseling. He or she will probably ask you talk about its history and impact on your life, as well as the steps you have already taken to resolve it. The counselor may ask about many different parts of your life, such as work, income, education, ethnicity, medical history, substance use, family history, relationships, and so on. It may seem nosy, but the counselor is asking because your issue is probably connected to other parts of your life. To serve you well, the counselor needs to discover these connections.

 7. The counselor will probably want to talk about feelings.

The counselor will probably want to discuss many things that go on inside you, such as thoughts, beliefs, physical sensations — and yes — emotions. Some counselors will focus on them more, some less, but you’ll end up talking about emotions at some point during counseling. Whether you think emotions are what make life beautiful, or are the only things stopping you from becoming Spock, your counselor will see them as information about what is important and meaningful to you.

8. The counselor may suggest exercises or activities.

Counseling is not just talking. Many kinds of therapy involve specific exercises that are intended to create insight or foster change. For example, a counselor using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may ask you to keep a “thought journal,” while a counselor trained in Gestalt techniques may ask you to speak to an imaginary person sitting in an empty chair.

9. The counselor will listen to you and care about what you are going through.

It may seem strange that a person you have only just met would actually care about you, but it’s probably true. Most counselors do what they do because they find satisfaction in supporting and caring about other people. You should expect genuine empathy, understanding, and support from your counselor.

 

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

Therapy for the Uninitiated and Intimidated: 5 Good Reasons to Try Counseling or Therapy – Gideon Killion

Let’s be honest. If you’re like most people, you’re uncomfortable with the idea of counseling. Isn’t counseling just for crazy people, you wonder? How could it possibly help to just sit there and talk to someone? Is it worth the money? Well, here are five ways counseling can help.

1. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen

Humans are relational beings. We cannot be healthy without connection to other people. Yet our modern, fast-paced society leaves many of us feeling disconnected and lonely. If we are fortunate enough to have close friends, they are often as busy as we are and they may not have the time, energy, or relational skill to listen to us in the way that we need. A counselor or therapist is trained to listen with patience and compassion. They offer the freedom to tell our stories without the fear that we will overwhelm or be rejected by our listener.

2. Sometimes, we need to work through unfinished business

Everyone has unresolved emotional baggage from the past. Maybe it’s something we needed but didn’t get from a parent. Maybe we carry wounds from bad relationships. Regardless of the cause, unfinished business can affect the way we see the world and hold us back from the lives we want to live. Because humans are relational, sometimes we cannot fully process the unfinished business alone. We need to work with someone, like a counselor, who has the training to help us do this.

3. Sometimes, we need treatment for mental health problems

The human brain is an organ, and like other organs, it doesn’t function perfectly. It can develop conditions that make it difficult for the person attached to it to live well. Proven and effective therapies have been created for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many other conditions. Many of us feel shame about needing this kind of help, but finding the courage to contact a counselor is often the first step toward healing.

 4. Sometimes, we need to learn to relate to others better

Relationships are one of the most important parts of a healthy, meaningful, and satisfying life. But good relationships do not happen naturally. Often, the more important a relationship is, the more difficult it becomes. Our culture does not do a good job of teaching most of us the skills and habits that make good relationships possible. Counselors can help us discover and change the patterns and habits that prevent us from creating good relationships and they can help us develop the skills for maintaining them.

5. Sometimes, we need help to grow

Many people reach a point in life where they realize they are not satisfied or fulfilled. They sense that they need to grow or develop in some way, but aren’t sure how. They think about it inwardly, or discuss it with friends, but still aren’t sure where they are headed or how to get there. That’s when it’s time to call a counselor. A trained counselor can listen to our stories and help uncover the needs and desires that long to be satisfied, the wounds and fears that hold us back, and the values and beliefs that guide our choices. A counselor can help us identify the actions we must take in order to grow and reach the next level of our lives.

 

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

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth