Choose Wisely

Be not afraid. Be Discerning.
Explore the crevices as you are able…with a safe guide. I had a great trip last year hiking in upper and lower Antelope Canyon, not tough at all, especially with our experienced Navajo guide. This reminds me of the entrance to growth work.

I recently came across a client who described the great fear that had kept this person from seeking needed counseling for some time, before meeting me. I have often been aware it takes great courage to call and to walk through that door the first time, and for that matter the subsequent times.

I have great respect for those I have worked with over the years struggling in one way or another and admitting their need for something more. I can understand the trepidation of persons uncertain of what they might encounter. Sadly some have had some terrible experiences, so I encourage folks to interview the potential therapist, research them and above all pay attention to how you are treated. I usually give persons the names of 3 resources when possible in any referral because relationship impacts healing of any sort.

Fear can keep us from many good things, though it also can serve a useful purpose in warning us. If you get a sensation that something is not right, do not ignore your intuition. Maybe it is projection, though you can usually tell if you see yourself thinking the same negative thoughts about many persons who look similarly or have the same role as someone who once did actually wound you. However, some discerning is needed because perhaps that counselor or spiritual director is not a good fit for you.

I think there is a reason Jesus so often speaks “Be not afraid”. Well, no need to fear God, but for many that is a hard piece to chew…perhaps there has been a scarey earthly father image or sadly a cruel judgmental experience of a “believer”. That saddens me when I have heard of it, yet it also gives me hope because once a person separates the experience with one harsh person from the unfathomable reality of a God who loves beyond measure, real healing can occur for those who desire it to be so.

But back to that fear…well, an ethical and trained counselor ought not elicit fear any more than someone who represents God. The scripture “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust” comes to mind.
As a person enters into a counseling relationship though, that trust must be earned and built based on a genuine respect for the person seeking counseling.

While a good therapist will not just be a “yes” person, giving you whatever they think you want to hear any more than a good physician who conceals a cancer, they can be respectful and thoughtful in the way the information is conveyed.

In Imago relationship therapy and theory we know that how you say what you say is vital. While we can teach specific skills, the intent and desire must be there to practice learning respectful yet truthful dialogue.
I encourage persons who may be considering seeking counseling or spiritual guidance or even choosing a new physician, to be discerning, yet not let fear keep you from acting.

Those of us in the healing profession have a duty to treat you with respect and yet be honest. There are many good therapists out there, yet the fear or anxiety you experience can be framed as a good God-given reminder to be discerning of who you choose.

Respect yourself as much as you respect those “professionals”. Many sincerely devout Christians forget that the scripture describing the second greatest commandment says “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:39). (It does not say instead of yourself :)). If you feel disrespected or that your spiritual beliefs are not honored, it does not matter how many degrees or licenses follow the name. You can address it with the counselor or leave and find another.

So if you are thinking you would like to get help but are concerned it may conflict with your values or that you will be treated badly, remember you get to choose where and with whom you spend time, money and energy, and who gets your sacred trust. Do not let fear keep you from acting on a good intention to heal or grow.
That sinking feeling in your stomach can be just a reminder to be discerning. Do not let it keep you from seeking help. That takes courage, honesty and humility, and such traits are virtues and deserve respect. None of us ever changed something we were unaware of first. Most helping professionals understand that we are all vulnerable at one time or another, and if they are worth their salt, will respect your courage to act in spite of fear. So let this year be a year you choose love over fear as the motivator of your actions. Love of others does involve proper self care.