The Need For Courage In Counseling

by | Jul 31, 2017

This might be a surprise, but one of the main reasons people do not get as much out of therapy as they could is because they lack courage. There are two types of clients. Which one are you?

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.

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