After my appearance on our little local TV station the other day, hits on my web site and Facebook page have skyrocketed. There have been a number of inquiries (and a couple of new clients). There has also been a recurring question and one I haven’t directly addressed yet: What happens during telephone counseling?
First, I ask you to lie down on a couch and then tell me all about your mother and father. Of course, I use a German accent when I’m counseling. Then we explore just how awful your parents were and how their terrible child rearing techniques have ruined you in adulthood….
Kidding. Kidding! But this is the fear of some. Here’s the thing, I’m not going to delve deeply into your past…unless you ask me to. As an undergraduate psychology major, I used to argue with one professor who insisted that it was unnecessary to review someone’s upbringing, that it was only necessary to look at the client’s presenting issue and, together, to figure out a way to achieve that client’s goals. Oh, how I argued. Turns out he was right.
In graduate school (for social work), we were taught a strength’s based model. Look at someone strengths, protective factors and what they are already doing. Then, develop a set of measurable goals to achieve THEIR desired outcome. Delving into the past is usually unnecessary. Now is the important factor. Clients present with an issue NOW that is distressing. That said, it is also true that how we grieve and how we feel and think about grieving is somewhat based on our past experience. As children, we look to the adults in our life as role models for all kinds of behavior. Most of us lost our first person or pet as a child and we watched how the adults expressed those emotions and what they said to us or around us. Our adult style of grieving is often similar to those first observed experiences.
BUT…and this is a big but…that grieving style can be adjusted. And that’s where counseling comes in.
For our first session, I will ask some background information. I’ll already have some from the intake form I ask everyone to complete prior to our first appointment. Then I will ask to hear your story. Who (and pets are “Who’s”) died, when, how, etc. The telling of the story is a very important part of healing. Then we will discuss goals. Essentially, how will we know when counseling is no longer necessary? What are you looking to achieve through counseling? Often the goal is “that I’m not crying all day every day”. Or it could be that you are armed with enough information and coping techniques that you feel you can move forward on your own. I don’t set the goals. You do. I’ll help you explore what those might be, but you decide.
It’s my job to walk alongside you as you navigate through your grief. Not to direct you. Not to advise you. Not to tell you what to do or think or feel. YOU are the expert on your grief. YOU are in control of the process and the outcome. I will support you and encourage you and listen to you and educate you. I will be your companion as you learn to interpret your personal grief journey…
Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC