Thursday, June 2, 2011

Counseling...good or bad?

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Everyone has their opinions, and I'm sure this issue will be no different: Counseling.  Many people believe that going to a counselor is a silly waste of time, while there are others at the opposite extreme who can't make a simple decision or handle any bump in their life without running to their counselor for advice and guidance.  I personally have lots of opinions on this topic.

I do have a counselor... someone I trust with any secret I would ever want to share.  He is someone I started seeing quite a few years ago after a very painful incident in life drove me to see that I needed someone I could spill it all to on occasion... someone to help me find perspective and hopefully figure out the best way to deal with some things.  Through the years there have been times where I've gone in more, and others where I've probably gone even less than those around me would think I really needed.  But over the past year or so there have been some major bumps in my journey, and those things drove me back to the comfy chair with my counselor across from me (not really a comfy chair - but it's at least not horrible... but it's definitely not one of those sofas that you see in movies, which is quite a disappointment!)  I chose to see a Christian counselor, because I believe there is enough bad counsel out there, and I'm able to find that on a daily basis already - so I'd rather someone talk to me who has a firm belief in the same biblical views as I have.  If I have learned anything about counseling, it is that ALL counseling is not necessarily good.  There are more nutcases out there giving counsel to others when they are actually probably certifiably crazy themselves than we could probably ever count! 

Now how could counseling ever be bad?  Sadly, anything can be bad -- even something that is good for you can be bad if used incorrectly.  In my opinion, if it's not counseling to make you ultimately stronger and better, then it should be questioned.  Too many people I've seen in counseling are given excuses to remain in a state of "victimhood" (if that is a word - and if it's not, I've just created it!) rather than to deal with hurt and become stronger from it.  And all hurts have different requirements, but our goal should always be to become better equipped to deal with such issues.  There are some people who are in counseling who seem to have basically signed up for the lifetime plan - with no intentions from their counselor of them ever being self-sufficient.  And there can be nothing healthy in that.  Now certainly there are those people who are sanity-challenged who possibly do need to be signed up for this lifetime plan, but on average, someone seeking counseling just needs help finding their way back to (or maybe just "to" for the first time) a balanced way of life.  Whether that is dealing with something we've been through at the hands of someone else - or dealing with issues in our own self that needs some work. 

Everyone needs someone they can turn to at some point or another - and we all go through difficult times in our lives on some occasion.  It's great to have those close friends we can turn to for advice, encouragement, even scolding (when needed) etc., but sometimes it just doesn't work out that a person like that is in your life.  But also there are times that a trained professional is just the best one to seek out for advice.  Whatever the reason, we just need to keep in mind that they are people too.  They are not perfect, and much of what they say is their "opinion."  Make sure the counsel you receive is actually good counsel - not something that will hurt your life even more in the end.