As a marriage counsellor as well as a individual counsellor, people often say to me “wow I could never do your job as a counsellor listening to people’s problems all day” or “I could never listen to people complain all day like you do.”
My response is; I don’t listen to problems or complaints, my job as a marriage counsellor or individual counsellor is to teach clients more effective skills so that they can find solutions to their problems, feel more in control of their lives and achieve happiness. My ability a professional expat counsellor to teach these skills cuts across all types of problems, but usually most problems are related to relationships. To accomplish this I don’t need to spend an entire session listening to a problem or hearing complaints.
These comments from people often confirm my perception that professional individual counselling and marriage counselling is so misunderstood by the public or by those who sought help from an untrained professionals in which a client spends an entire session or series of sessions discussing and complaining about a problem or person and then not feeling any better or often worse. Individual counsellor or marriage counselling is not about problem talking or complaining but rather about skills building to manage thinking, behavior and ultimately improve important relationships.
Too often people seek individualcounselling or marriage counselling only when they’ve completely exhausted all other avenues to solve their problems and they are so desperately unhappy that they finally seek a counsellor to talk over their problems. At this point, a client greatly wants to feel better and they feel the way to do this is to discuss the problem that has grown bigger (largely because they keep speaking about it). However, solutions and help don’t come from discussing problems, and since the client has exhausted problem talking with everyone else and proved problem talking doesn’t work, me, as the therapist, doesn’t need to spend any more doing something that the client has already proven doesn’t work.
Only when we start talking about solutions in individual counselling or marriage counselling can we find solutions. Think of it this way, if you get a flat tire on your car and take it to a repair shop, the auto mechanic doesn’t say “well, wait a minute here, before I can fix this tire, I need to understand where you were driving, what road, how fast you were going, what you were doing even driving on that road and in that car, what kind of nail it is, how big the nail is, why you were even on that road in the first place…” so on and so forth.
Instead, the auto mechanic says, okay, with this car you’ve got these choices in tires and so he gets to work fixing the tire. Counselling is the similiar…once we know the problem, which takes a short time, the rest of the time we spend exploring the solutions and choices the client has available and often building skills around thinking and actions that can help the client solve the problem.
People often think that before they can solve a problem in individual counselling or marriage counselling they must fully understand the problem and that they must explore the problem indepth- mainly focusing on finding out “why”. However, this leads a person to feeling extremely hopeless, defeated and helpless. Often at this point clients are doing a lot of blaming, criticizing and feeling very unhappy. Therefore we talk about problems in the context of what we want and is doing what we are doing working to get what we want? If the answer is no, then we need to focus on what we want and determining a better way to get it. Just focusing on what isn't working, the problem, won't get us to the answer.
Another expectation that people have about individual counselling or marriage counselling is that the expat counsellor will make them feel better or fix them. For my clients that have worked with me, they’ll know how false it is to believe that anyone but yourself can make you feel better or fix you. A individual expat counsellor does not have miracle powers, including the ability to make a client feel better directly. Instead, a professionally trained individual counsellor will teach a client more effective skills so that client can learn how to make him/herself or the relationship feel better. This is an important point to understand, because a client may be disheartened that at the end of their first session they don’t have immediate relief from their bad feelings. To feel better, the client must learn new skills, implement and practice them. However, clients often feel more hopeful after their first session because now they are working on solutions to their problem. Individual counselling and marriage counselling are a process to help clients refine and improve their new skills.
Individual counselling and marriage counselling, with a trained professional expat counsellor is an empowering and positive experience. The expat counseller partners with each client to teach him or her more effective thinking and behavioral skills inorder to make more effective choices. Our counselors all have at least their Master’s Degree in Mental Health or Psychology and then have over 10,000+ hours of supervised counselling experience along with additional specialized training in trauma, attachment and various counselling theories. It’s important for a therapist to not only have counselling tools (theoretical interventions) but also understand the theory and brain function behind the client. This allows sessions to be more effective and overall treatment shorter.
Call us at 9030 7239 to learn more about how we can help you get the life you want to live.