As the writer of the inaugural blog post here on our website, I feel as if an introduction is in order. My name is Angie Taylor and I’m the Business Manager of Cornerstone Christian Counseling. If you pick up the phone and give us a ring or drop us an email, it’s me you’ll be chatting with. And while I don’t have an advanced degree in counseling like all of our fabulous clinicians, I do have an MA in Theology, happen to be married to our Founder and Director (how’s that for experience? If you think counseling is slightly intimidating, try being married to a Marriage and Family Therapist!) and have been going to what I like to refer to as the “School of Hard Knocks” full-time as I’ve learned to manage a counseling practice while raising two kids over the course of the past four years.
In the weeks and months to come, our clinicians will all write posts on topics they’re passionate about. There will be lots of practical tips and advice, so check back often. But for now, I figured I’d start by spending a few posts dispelling some of the myths surrounding counseling as well as addressing some of the FAQ’s we frequently receive. Today I’m going to focus on simply getting in the door and getting started.
MYTH #1: If I go to counseling, I’m admitting defeat. Seriously, things aren’t that bad.
Let me ask you this: how do you drive your car? These days most cars have handy dash lights that come on when it’s time to change our oil or check our engine or heck, even adjust the tire pressure. The question is, What do you do when that light comes on? Take the car straight to the garage? Drive around for a day or two (or week or more) and get to it eventually? Or, do you just run that sucker into the ground until it will simply go no more?
Now, apply that same principle to the relationships in your life. Chances are if you’re reading this blog post, you’re considering counseling. And chances are if you’re considering counseling, you’re like 98% of the people who call our office: something in life is going wrong enough that you need help figuring it out. In other words, your engine is starting to sputter. You’re tires aren’t holding air anymore. It’s time to take the old gal in for a little work.
Here’s the funny thing, though. There might be two of you in the car, and there might be a little disagreement going on in the front seat. And it usually goes something like this:
“Hal, do you hear that noise? It happens every time the car starts. You do hear that, right? It’s been making a noise like that for the past six weeks.”
“Sue, I hear it. But I’m not too worried about it. I’m sure it’s not a big deal. And sound or no sound, this car still runs ten times better than the Ford we used to have…”
“I disagree, Hal. I think we should get this thing looked at. And I really liked that Ford, by the way. You just ran it into the ground.”
“Sue, I told you. I don’t want to take this car to the garage. It’ll cost too much. Plus, I actually think I can fix it on my own. I just need a little time one of these weekends and I’m sure we can figure it out together. You tell me in detail what you’re hearing and then I’ll diagnose the problem and fix it. Problem solved.”
But Sue isn’t convinced and she calls her mechanic on Monday and describes the problem over the phone. The mechanic thinks he can fix it, and if Sue brings it in soon enough, no further damage will be done to the car. After all, a repair here and there over time is a lot cheaper than buying a new car. But Sue knows how Hal feels; his financial concern coupled with his pride of doing things on his own makes it unlikely that car will ever make its way to the mechanic. What’s a gal to do?
Do you see the metaphor here? It’s reflective of a lot of phone calls I get. One partner in a couple calls in and wants counseling. He/she sees trouble in their relationship or is struggling personally with things and would like the support of the other in the counseling room, but the other partner won’t budge. Common phrases I hear are, “He thinks we can fix this on our own,” or, “She doesn’t see how it will fit in our budget and doesn’t want to commit to anything.” When I dig a little deeper, the real issue on the table is usually pride. Not every time, but a lot of the time. Usually, what’s going on is the one dragging his/her feet learned to believe somewhere along the line that you had to be really messed up to go to counseling. That only “crazy” people have to pay to talk about their problems with others. That counseling is something you do as a last resort, or in crisis, or in times of utter, absolute desperation.
And isn’t that just reflective of our culture? A culture that pushes individualism and self-help? That we should always just be able to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and get over it and get going?
Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s just not the way it’s designed to work. We say it at Cornerstone because we believe it’s true: all of life is about relationships. God gave us one another for a reason. Sure, sometimes we might be able to figure stuff out on our own. But sometimes we need help. And there’s no shame in that. Seriously. And trust me when I say a little routine maintenance in your life and in your relationships (and I mean that in a broad sense, not just in the sense of married or dating couples, but in relationships you may have with peers, co-workers, family, etc.) is a lot less costly in the long run than ignoring problems and thinking they’ll go away. If you’re sweeping stuff under the rug, one of these days you’re gonna trip over the mound that’s built up over time. I guarantee it.
Still not so sure? That’s okay. There are a lot of questions surrounding counseling, and it’s super important to find a place and a person that’s the right fit for you. We’ll keep the conversation going with more myths and more answers to our most common FAQ’s in the weeks to come. Until then, feel free to reach out via phone or email. That’s what I’m here for.