Two Goals of Therapy
Some people come to therapy in crisis and others for direction.
When people approached Jesus, often at some sacrifice of their finances, pride and convenience, he would ask them, “what is it you would like for me to do for you?”
People normally do not wander in to a place of help for no real reason. However, it is common that people are not totally clear on what it is they would like to happen once help has been received.
Now, that is not true in other settings of help. If my arm is broken and I go to the emergency room, it is clear to me that I want the pain to stop, my arm set in a direction of healing and protection in the form of a cast that allows sufficient time and space for the bone to grow healthy again. If I want to buy a house and go to a mortgage broker, I know that I want to borrow money and need to learn all the ins-and-outs of securing a loan.
Counseling can be different. Sometimes the problem is not always the problem. Many couples come in wondering if they should stay married or get a divorce. And then we peel back the layers. The covenant relationship has been broken. Maturity is needed in one place, repentance in another. And we then learn that one was abused as a child. That matters. The other has coped with the broken covenant by engaging in addictive behavior. And that matters. The marriage begins to grow when the human beings who are married engage in a growth process.
In the Bible, God has a brief conversation with a woman named Hagar (Genesis 16) and asks her two questions that form two important goals of therapy. As a slave, she has been impregnated by her owner. When she copped an attitude, she was sent away by her owner’s wife to certain molestation, starvation and death. And then God saw her. God heard her.
And he asked, where have you come from and where are you going?
Where have you come from?
You have an internal operating system that was formed out of shaping experiences of your past. That is why you respond the way you do. You have two choices. 1) You can ignore the shaping stories that form you and hope for the best. 2) You can engage those stories with understanding and consider how they influence the style of relating you have with those you love and with those you work.
Where are you going?
One of the things I work hard to help people understand and commit to is a picture of what “better” looks like. There is “ideal” and there is “better”. When people have a realistic understanding of what “better” looks like, they will then know when they arrive at “better”. When they have a vision for “better” then it is easier to form a plan for getting there.
So, what are your symptoms? Depression, anxiety, relational problems, anger? Where have you come from and where are you going?
Let’s make a plan.