One of the biggest mistakes that many of my clients make about counseling is believing that I am going to fix their problems without them having to do anything.
Intellectually, they come in ready to do the work, but fear, lack of motivation, and frustrations with slow progress get in the way of advancing towards their goals. Emotionally, they just want me to do it all for them.
In the therapy world, we call these clients “visitors.”
A primary characteristic of visitors is a lack of commitment to participate productively in treatment.
As a result, they begin to complain and whine about the interventions not working–even though they only tried them once or twice and without any regularity.
At this point, many of my clients tend to drop out.
However, to advance or improve at anything is going to require work, sacrifice, challenging cultural paradigms, and destructive narratives.
What’s needed is courage.
Courage is the ability to stand your ground for a greater good, despite some impending doom.
Obviously, this makes the most sense in warfare. A soldier, defending the common good of the city, is willing to stand his ground and fight the enemy, even though he may feel fear.
Courage, though, is not limited to warfare.
The impending doom could be an unwelcome emotion, a difficulty in a relationship, or change itself.
Change is just scary. And a phenomenon often seen in therapy is clients sabotaging healthy change precisely because change disturbs the usual ways of operation.
If you like it or not, even destructive ways of operating are just more comforting. As an alcoholic once told me, “I don’t struggle with drunkenness. I struggle with sobriety.”
When he’s drunk, he longs to be sober since he sees how destructive his drinking has become. The moment he is sober, the unpleasant emotions and cravings set in and the thought of giving up drink seems insurmountable.
But the only way forward is to preserve and maintain the course of action with diligence, care, and attention.
We therapist call these types of clients “Customers.”
Customers commit to change and are willing to do whatever it takes to see it through.
They have courage, heart, and, even, nerve.
So, what should those clients do who lack courage or the willingness to change?
Luckily, that’s where I come in.
I am trained to work with both visitors and customers.
What I have found is visitors need someone willing to dive right in with them and help them confront their fears.
Standing your ground by yourself can be very scary, but when you have someone skilled and trained right next to you, walking you step by step, the impending doom needn’t feel so imminent.
So if you need a counselor, who is willing to walk next to you and help and assist you in your change, then I am your guy.
I promise I will work just as hard as you and sometimes even harder to get you to your goal.
Believe it or not but the vast majority of mental illness is just a lack of interpersonal skills in knowing how to relate to others.
I joke with my clients all the time that the DSM V (the manual that catalogs psychological disorders) is just a 1000 way to feel the disconnection from, ourselves, others, and God.
For example, many clients of mine feel loads of anxiety because they lack the skills in knowing how to ask others to do something.
Others panic when saying no to an unwanted request.
You would be amazed at how many of my clients are unable to process hurt feelings and problems and instead build up until the emotions are no longer manage.
What Seems To Be The Issue?
One of the hardest tasks that cause interpersonal suffering is the inability to repair broken relationships.
The failure respond to broken relationships can be between parent and teen, husband to wife, spouse to in-laws, spouse to a family origin, or person to non-family member ( a lady at church, co-worker, friends, neighbor, etc.).
What Went Wrong?
The reason so many people lack these skills is that they never had someone to teach or model these abilities.
We are social beings that learn to operate in the world by observing and being directed by others. Then there’s a process of us practicing these skills until perfection.
I am a very sarcastic person, and my oldest son (who is 9) is beginning to enjoy and understand the art of being witty.
However, he lacks the knowledge of when and when not to engage in being funny.
My job as the parent is to model and teach him how to use his sarcasm in a way that is appropriate for the time and isn’t hurtful to others.
The modeling and teaching of my son are the natural development of learning inner personal skills.
What’s The Solution?
But what if you didn’t have this modeling or teaching?
As a counselor, I place a lot of emphasis on skills training and modeling.
My clients learn how to manage their relationships and as a result their “mental illness symptoms” decrease.
Observing and being taught interpersonal skills is one of the reasons counseling is so effective.
How Brandon Wall, LMFT Can Help
So, if you suffer from some form of mental illness in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area, it might just be an inability to manage relationships effectively.
Or maybe your spouse is even trying to convince you that if you would just be more ________ (fill in the blank) or less _______ (fill in the blank), then he or she won’t have gone outside the marriage to seek _______ (fill in the blank).
But, the fact remains, your spouse having an affair is not your fault.
Yes, your marriage might not have been the best marriage in the world.
Maybe you guys fought a lot or have been having sexual or intimacy issues.
Of course, no one is perfect, and so I am sure we could collaborate to see what you could have done better in your marriage.
But why should we, therefore, conclude from you not being a perfect person that your spouse has a good reason to wonder?
Is There Ever A Reason To Have An Affair?
Struggling in marriage is not a good reason to be unfaithful.
In fact, there’s no such thing as a good reason to be unfaithful.
As I tell my clients all the time, “Your marriage having problems needs to be owned by both spouses, but how each of you individually reacts to your relationship difficulties is all on you as an individual.”
Having an affair is just one way to act to a struggling marriage.
If you think about it, there are all sorts of healthy and unhealthy ways to respond. Your spouse could have found Jesus (the healthy way) or became a drunk (the unhealthy way).
And, believe it or not, this is why it’s not your fault.
But here’s the problem.
No matter how many times you try and stop blaming yourself, the likelihood of you being able to stop on your own is very slim.
What’s The Solution?
That’s where counseling comes into the play ( the healthy way).
Talk therapy has been shown to help individuals work through the trauma of an affair.
What I would recommend you do is find a good marriage counselor and begin the process of healing.
If you’re in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area, I would love to help you in any way that I can.
I am a Marriage and Family Therapist, and I specialize in relationships and trauma. I see both individuals and couples to get them back on track.