How It Works
“A Place to Talk Things Out”
“I thought you were going to have me lie on a couch and judge me. But that’s not at all what counseling’s like! I tell that to my friends who I think need therapy. Therapy is just a place to talk things out.”
That’s what Cody said to me weeks into the counseling process.
I don’t think Cody’s alone in what he thought therapy was like!
So… what’s it like?
Guys and men wonder what therapy’s all about.
After all, TV portrays therapists in all sorts of ways… some comical, some scary!
To make matters worse, there are the TV psychologists who tell people in front of millions how they (the person) is wrong, and that they need to “get their act together.”
Creating a Masterpiece
Jayden was throwing tantrums that were getting bigger and bigger. His parents were exhausted, as if they were living life in a constant “hurricane warning zone.”
Cody was failing at college and skipping all his classes. His world was closing in around him.
Scott’s wife wanted a separation, telling him that she was tired of his workaholism. “I don’t know who you are anymore,” she said. Scott was devastated.
Jayden, Cody, and Scott are not real people… they represent a composite of guys and men I’ve seen over the years.
They call me because their life is anything BUT a masterpiece.
All they can see is a big mess of rocks, lying scattered across the landscape of their life where discouragement, anxiety, and depression reign.
Seeing New Possibilities
In Jayden’s case, I helped his parents see that life could be better. Because I’ve worked with lots of boys over the years, I could assure them that Jayden is not abnormal.
I listened to their story of the hurricanes they’d been living through with Jayden’s temper. I taught Jayden’s parents research-based parenting tips that work, and we found another psychologist to do some testing to figure out whether other factors were behind Jayden’s larger-than-life tantrums.
With a vision in mind of what Jayden’s parents wanted for him, we went to work… learning new ways to handle tantrums, teaching him fun ways to think differently. Kids’ books and play therapy helped him grasp the teaching and want to come back.
Over the next couple months, a much happier Jayden and parents emerged.
Cody told his story of growing up… struggling to pay attention in class and stay organized.
He’d been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder by his pediatrician when he was younger. He’d struggled in high school, but somehow managed to pull through with B’s and C’s.
But when he got to college, everything was much bigger, more complex, and he was expected to “know” how to study.
As we talked about what he wanted, he said, “I want to graduate college, I want to learn to study, and I don’t want to be so lonely at school.”
Over that summer, he learned practical strategies to cope with adult attention deficit disorder, he learned how to study (it’s a skill), and he started reaching out to acquaintances he’d met the semester before.
He connected with his academic counselor, and we made a plan to ensure his success once he went back to school.
He was excited to go back once summer was over because he had a vision, a plan, and skills to accomplish that vision.
Scott was able to talk about his story over the course of the first few sessions. His didn’t fit in a couple neat paragraphs. Nope… it tumbled out in fits and starts… messy and unformed.
But his story became the raw material from which his masterpiece would be forged.
As we talked, we discovered his love of learning, his passion for helping other people, and his love for his family.
He talked about why he felt he had to work so hard. His dad never worked very hard, and he always had these seemingly harebrained schemes to make money.
One day, they found out they had lost their home, and they had to go live in an apartment. As a young man, Scott swore, as they moved out of their comfortable home, that his family would never go through this.
So, over the years, Scott worked feverishly to gain financial security. Now, though, he realized that he had gained security at the expense of his relationship with his wife and kids.
He figured out, as he looked at his values of God, family, contribution, and work… that work had always been his top priority.
He started taking committed actions to place God, family, and contribution first. As the weeks progressed, a new light began to emerge, and he saw the pieces of his life fitting better.
He occasionally slipped back into overwork. But, over time, he started to earn his family’s trust.
Three Stages of Counseling
Telling Your Story
Like the examples above, you need to tell your story.
Sure, things are messy now. But remember that all masterpieces come from raw material.
Invest in yourself, and treat yourself to the gift of a safe place to be heard as you talk about all the things that have so long remained hidden.
Creating Your Vision
“If we meet three years from today—and you were to look back over those three years—what is it that would have had to happen during that period, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy about your progress?”
This question, more than any other, will help you develop your vision for what you want yourself and your life to look like.
Maybe you’re not sure! That’s okay. You’ll be amazed, as you tell your story, how you’ll be freed up to start dreaming and envisioning what you want in your life.
Possibilities are born during this stage of counseling.
Shaping Your Masterpiece
Change isn’t easy.
Clay doesn’t form easily into a beautiful vase. A block of stone doesn’t easily become Michelangelo’s “David”: It takes patient and determined shaping, chipping, chiseling, and forming.
But with a strategy for action and consistent effort, with your vision in mind, you’ll be moving toward your new destination.
My Approach and Commitment to You
I promise to listen carefully with an open mind.
People want to be genuinely and non-judgmentally heard. Sure, later in the conversation, they might want answers. But, at first, they just want to tell their story.
I will reflect back to you what I hear.
You’ll benefit tremendously from a caring person who can serve as a sounding board without a hidden agenda.
I will stand behind your goals when possible.
Sometimes your goals may not be in your best interest or may clash with your own stated values. When that’s the case, we’ll talk about it.
I will stay constructive and practical.
Guys often want action-oriented, problem-solving therapy. I’ll be constructive by listening to you, supporting you, and exploring themes with you. I’ll be practical by bringing the discussion back to the goals we come up with at the beginning of therapy.
I will ask you for your honest feedback about the goals/topics we are covering… and how you feel about the progress you are making.
I’m open to changing our goals, topics, and approach—as long as it helps you move closer to where you want to be.
If you’re a Christian, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant/non-denominational, I very much will enjoy working with you.
I work as a Christian counselor when my clients wish to bring that perspective into whatever counseling issues they are going through.
At Trinity International University (formerly Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), I not only learned about counseling theory and practice, but also how to integrate them with a deep understanding of theology.
“Steve, I’m not a Christian…”
That’s quite okay. I’d say up to 60% of all clients I have worked with and continue to work with are not Christian.
I respect where you’re coming from, just as I’ve expected counselors from whom I’ve received counseling to respect my beliefs.
Benefits of Working with Me
I’ve always loved learning about the best therapeutic techniques and strategies to help you get results. Learning is a way of life for me.
I love learning for the sake of learning. I listen, read, and learn on a continuous basis, so that I can impart what I learn to you.
I look for evidence-based, researched, and tested theories and strategies to apply in our sessions. Constant and never-ending improvement is my commitment to myself and to you.
I’m committed to getting back to you as quickly as possible when you need to hear from me.
Warmth and Empathy
Empathy is one of my top strengths… according to yet another test I’ve taken. So, you’ll feel heard and understood.
Reaching Out to Me – What to Expect
You can contact me by phone or via email. Then, I’ll schedule you a free 20-minute consultation.
There’s no pressure! We’ll talk and get to know each other.
I’ll ask you some questions to help me understand why you’re calling. We’ll figure out what you want out of counseling. We’ll talk about my approach and whether I may be a good fit for you.
If we decide to work together, we’ll set up your first appointment.
I’ve often told new clients, “Let’s take three sessions.” This gives me time to hear your story and for you to get to know me.
If, after three sessions, you’re feeling good about the direction we’re heading in, we’ll continue to work together.
If not, I’ll help you find someone who can help you.
No pressure, no expectations.
The One Caveat about Creating a Masterpiece
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” –Ephesians 2:10, New Living Translation
You are a masterpiece of God’s Creation, but the masterpiece does not always turn out the way we want.
We all know that life throws curve balls. We may start out with one result in mind and end up with another.
But I can promise that I will work alongside you to help create results you can be happy with!
It’s time to make a change. Contact me for a free 20-minute consultation: (224) 419-6144