Most people who seek counseling or some form of therapy do so as a last resort. Whatever is bothering them has not been solvable, or has reached the point it is significantly interfering with their life in one or more ways.
Tangled is a word that comes to mind.
It is as if you know what the problem is in a sort of global sense but the path towards a solution has a vagueness to it, or feels balled up in a knot, and you can’t find that loose thread that unravels it for you.
Sometimes people are afraid to start therapy. There are several reasons for this. It is expensive, time consuming, and frankly, it’s weird. You hire someone, a perfect stranger in fact, with whom to explore some pretty troubling issues. However, this can be comforting if you think about it. This person has no vested interest in the outcome of your problem, and serves as a neutral, caring partner with you to reach solutions or better ways to manage the issues that concern you. And it is rather nice to have someone to privately express your fears and concerns whose purpose and training are to help you untangle the web. Licensed professionals are also bound to confidentiality and ethical codes, unlike friends or relatives.
So what is the most important quality to seek in this odd duck of a relationship? The answer may not be so obvious, but the answer is the comfort you feel in the relationship. If you do not feel this in the first meeting, seek a different person. Don’t give up. The relationship between you and your counselor is the vehicle you work within to arrive at your destination. And the best counselors help you to see, using your vision, the heart of the issues–untangling as you go, gaining clarity bit by bit. The Big Bang of sudden revelation or insight in psychotherapy is not as typical as the media paints it.
It’s not a straight path, but most things in life that are worth doing don’t run in a nice straight line or fit exactly within some predetermined set of perimeters. Within the gray areas is often where you find your truth.
One thing strikes me as a bit ironic is how willing people are to invest in things, habits, addictions and other people, yet won’t invest in themselves. You are your best bet for a good investment. The time and work you gift yourself with pays big and lasting dividends towards a happier, healthier and more engaged life.
So while therapy truly is a bit of an odd duck of relationship, there are good reasons for this: your confidentiality, the ability to talk through issues with a trained listener, and the safety of working within a trusting relationship before you try things out with those in your “real” life.
So if this is where you find yourself, try it. What better investment than yourself?