What is your part in getting the most out of counseling?
Here are some more suggestions about getting the most out of therapy. Therapy is an investment of time and money. There is no such thing as a perfect therapist with a magic wand. Like anything, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.
Tip 1: Focus on yourself and your growth.
Remember, you can only change you! Whether you are in individual or couple’s therapy, don’t spend an entire session complaining about someone else. Once your therapist understands the dynamics, this kind of complaining is a waste of time. You will gain a lot more by asking the counselor to help you identify and change your part of the problems and struggles you face. You do have a part. If your partner has refused to participate in couple’s counseling, observing some fabulous growth in you may be the ticket to having them join you in therapy.
Tip 2: It may get worse before it gets better.
Change upsets the apple cart. Change in only one person will alter the dynamics of the relationship and the partner will have to adjust to a new person! Change, even for the better is uncomfortable because it’s NEW. We tell clients, “If you feel uncomfortable, good. It is a good indication that you are growing and change is taking place.” We say, “Pick your pain!” Usually the painful places in our relationships cause us misery. Change is distressing too, but it offers hope. Why not pick the productive pain and GROW?
Tip 3: Don’t wait until it is really bad to get help.
Some of the most difficult couples I have worked with have been married for more than 18-20 years and should have gotten help long before they did. Bad patterns, habits and attitudes only get more entrenched. The sooner you get help the easier it is to change.
Resentment and bad attitudes build when problems go unresolved for a long time.
Tip 4: Don’t give the lame excuse you don’t have the time or money to get help.
Come on now! We make time and spend money on what is important to us. Everything in this world takes maintenance. Nothing stays shinny, new and in great working condition. Maintenance is just a part of keeping something in good working condition. If we don’t take care of what we have, we may end up having to replace it; whether it’s cars, homes, or relationships. Often, people don’t attend our Saturday workshops because they “have a soccer game”. That is short sighted thinking. When don’t you have something to do? Make an investment in your marriage. The kids will thank you for it. They would rather have happy parents than see you at every single game. Getting help can be expensive, but divorce is way more costly than marriage counseling.
The failure rate of second marriages is 72%. By the third marriage the statistics finally get better…about 32%. Why? Did the right person finally appear? No. People in our offices on round three say, “I have to make it work this time. I keep running into the same wall and I can see I’m a part of the problem.” Finally! If money is really tight, get our book and do the corresponding workbook as a couple or as an individual. Do something!
Tip 5: Practice at home.
Growth involves insight. This is the fun part. Oh!!! That explains why I do this or feel a certain way. Insights are the Ahhh Hahhs! You should have some of those moments with the help of your therapist. Growth also involves learning and practicing new skills. A couple can do a great job of listening in my office, but if they never practice at home they won’t get very far. If you don’t know what you should be practicing at home, ask your therapist,: “What is the most important thing I could be doing outside this office to foster my personal growth?” If you are not in therapy, there are plenty of ideas about things to practice in the How We Love Workbook.
Next week we will look at some ways to tell if you are with the right counselor.