Every once in a while I have someone come into the counseling room and announce:
“So, are you going to fix me up?” or sometimes “Are you going to fix my husband/wife?”
Usually we both laugh. It’s like someone has a broken bone that needs to be splinted. I agree that something is indeed broken, but we may not agree on whose job it is to do the fixing. I wish therapists had super powers, too. It would be so much easier than having to go through what sometimes ends up being a painful process – for both the client and counselor.
What can’t a therapist do?
- They cannot go through the grieving process for you if you have suffered a loss. They can’t take away the pain, only grieve with you.
- They cannot do the work for you. You must practice the tools that are given to you. And then practice some more. Breaking old patterns take determination and time. If you ignore the homework it will extend your time in therapy.
- They cannot change your heart or your attitude. That is totally up to you and you must desire it enough to surrender your will.
- They cannot make you consistent in keeping your appointments and staying with the process. That is totally up to you. It is very frustrating to have to begin again after a significant break. Going from crisis to crisis is a painful way to live life.
- They cannot make you honest or vulnerable. It is hard to reveal things about ourselves that we are not proud of or that carry a lot of shame. But things not disclosed can’t be dealt with. Fortunately there is grace, forgiveness and healing for those who are willing to take the risk.
- They cannot guarantee the outcome that you want. They can’t guarantee that your spouse will change, your kids will heal, your addiction will disappear or your anxiety or depression will depart, never to return. They can only walk with you with expertise and hope.
Does this mean that counseling is not effective? Not at all. It just means that it requires more from you than you might have expected.
There is a Super Power however. That is why we invite the Holy Spirit to be part of the counseling sessions. Sometimes hearts are changed rapidly. Sometimes deep healing occurs. Usually, however, it takes following the practical steps that are offered to make the incremental changes that produce results that you desire.