Goals for Counseling
Many may be aware that one’s past and present greatly affect psychological well-being, but the future affects people more than many realize. The outlook for one’s future is evidenced by how much hope a person possesses. Hope is central to mental health. Therefore, the primary goal of counseling is to instill hope. This includes the hope to change and faith in the therapeutic process itself. Individuals seeking counseling are often at their wits’ end and therapy is their final step and often their last hope. If therapy can at least instill hope, then clients will feel a measure of empowerment and expectancy.
Empowerment and building self-efficacy is also key to the counseling process. From the very beginning, one of my goals is to empower clients so that they feel as though they have the ability and the resources to accomplish whatever obstacles may come their way.
I will also work with my clients on defining a solvable problem. As a counselor, I aim to create ways for the client to measure and at the very least notice progress. Ideally, progress should be measurable and definable. Along these same lines, I work with my clients to identify unhealthy cognitive and behavioral patterns. Therapy should allow people time to reflect on their internal world, cognition, and belief systems in which they operate.
Moving beyond simply surviving, I hope that my clients learn to thrive - to love others well and to allow themselves to be loved well. Thomas Merton, an influential monk and theologian, illustrates the complexity of this objective:
"If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity, we must first of all overcome the fear of not being loved. And this cannot be done by forcing ourselves to believe in some illusion, saying that we are loved when we are not. We must first strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all in spite of everything."
I spend most of my time studying, teaching, and presenting about identity development. I am passionate about this area. I incorporate a lot of Dr. Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability. So rest assured, if you see me for counseling, I will probably recommend one of Dr. Brown’s books.