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This is Part 2 of the counseling series: You can read Part 1 Here
I was hesitant walking into my first appointment, not knowing what to expect. All I knew is that it was an hour out of the house to myself to talk to someone with an objective perspective on my life.
I definitely had my doubts though. I mean an intern? Am I really going to sit and spill my guts to some 20-year-old guy that doesn’t have any real-life experience under his belt yet?
I was shaky and anxious, just like all the previous times I have gone into therapy sessions. As bad of shape I’m in I knew the amount of emotional baggage I’m carrying will come exploding out, what if this newbie can’t take it? I know I am going to look crazy!
Then God showed me! Like he always does.
Exactly What I Needed
I walked into the building and a middle-aged man reaches out to shake my hand.
When we get to the room (before the emotional explosion) he gives me a run down of himself and what to expect.
He tells me that he is a PASTOR!!!
I see you God! Always taking care of me, giving me what I need.
He goes on to tell me he has preached for decades, and is getting his degree to be able to better counsel his congregation.
He is happily married and has 3 teenage sons.
Could this be anymore perfect? I have a teenage son!
Then the question: So, what brings you here today?
You can imagine what followed!
I gotta say though, he handled it well.
There was a lot to address, and he suggested we take it one issue at a time. Letting me always go over our allotted time, since it just added to his credit hours anyway. We covered a lot of ground.
I went to counseling for a slew of reasons, and we were working on them and getting through them one by one the best we could.
What followed after I started counseling and continued on the entire 8 months, I was having sessions, no one could see coming.
My alcoholic father was on a major downward spiral, resulting in nearly losing his life and definitely losing the use of his arm in a horrible wreck.
My step-grandma died from cancer.
My own grandma, that I was EXTREMELY close to died 2 weeks later from a stroke.
At the exact same time a different immediate family member had all of a sudden developed a substance abuse issue, making him unrecognizable to the person he was.
My cousin who is my age was laid up in a medically induced coma fighting for her life in ICU following a terrible abdominal surgery for over a month, we were even called in at one point being told she wouldn’t make it.
This was among all the other issues in my life.
Thank God I was in counseling then. Again, God knew what he was doing.
I hate to think about how I could have possibly handled those traumas without being counselled at that time.
The counselor even admitted how uncommon all these traumas are, and how hard it is for us to focus on the issues I came in for because for awhile there was always some new traumatic event that took precedence over the other stuff.
I don’t understand why everything happened at once. But I was so thankful for his perspective on everything. Not only from his professional and academic point of view, but also his perspective from being a man of God.
Tips on what to expect in a counseling session
- Body language mirroring- counselors do this to help you feel more comfortable and themselves seem more approachable, resulting in you trusting them more. I know it seems weird, but you won’t even notice it. I had to be told. For example, if I cross my legs, he would cross his.
- Chart drawing, lots of chart drawing. Most of the male counselors I have had like to do this, more so than the women I have had sessions with. Makes sense, men are more visual so they like to chart graphs and lists down on those dry erase boards to really help you get the picture.
- Repeating your words back to you. I hated this! I would tell him an experience or how I felt about something and he would repeat it right back to me. Awkward! But done on purpose for you to hear yourself and own up to what you are expressing.
- There is usually a certain theory or method your counselor is following in order to work you through your issues. Every counselor has a different approach and some use a couple on you until they start to see results. My counselor discovered best results with several of his patients, including me, by using EFT (emotionally focused therapy).
- Don’t hold back- They know you are going to be emotional. This is your personal time to release all the toxic mental build-up and heal. They are trained for this. Do not under any circumstances hold back, lie, gloss over, or keep some things secrets. They can only truly help you if they know the who, what, why and how. It is okay, even expected, to be raging mad, cry, or have a panic attack. This is their job and they expect it and will be ready to hand you the tissues when need be.
Read the final part of this series. Part 3: What I learned at Counseling and What You Can Too HERE