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"I Don't Do Counseling."

» Mental Health Library » Treatment Approaches » Solution Focused Brief Therapy » Featured Article

By Kim S. Spicciatie, LCSW

Kim S. Spicciatie, LCSW
Recently, I met with a man - a big, strong construction worker - who was the youngest of many siblings. He'd never been to a counselor for any reason but had been mandated for evaluation by his employer.  I told him I would try to do my best,  so he would take away a positive impression of my profession.  We talked about many things during our meeting, and as time went on, he began to share more freely about his work and his family. Later in the conversation, he became tearful when I asked him about his childhood and early family life.  It was difficult for him to speak, but he did. I've never told anyone this, he said, but my parents never had time for me! He angrily told me that an older brother liked to punch him until he cried.  One time, his brother broke some of his bones, and his parents couldn't afford a doctor. He went on to express how it felt to be lost in a crowd of brothers, picked on by the eldest, and seemingly ignored by his parents. I asked him if his father and mother worked, and he said yes, they worked very hard. "They tried to give all us kids a decent childhood" - - in fact, he said, they probably did the best they could.  I asked if he had ever confronted his brother about his bullying;  he said he'd started to, but never finished the conversation.  Then he remembered, his brother did apologize years later.  He looked up and said he'd never talked about these things.  He'd stopped crying.  He took a healthy deep breath, and let it go.  It was obvious he felt better.

Although he only came to see me for a short visit for another purpose,  a therapeutic alliance was quickly established and a benefit was gained, all because of one meaningful conversation. I encouraged him to seek counseling near his home, as he clearly benefited from taking a good look at the painful, inaccurate conclusions he'd come to about his parents and brother. It seemed there was more he needed to let go of.  He said he didn't think it would do any good.  I asked him if he felt better, and he said he did feel a lot better, even relieved that he was able to "re-think" these early life events.  In that case, I told him, I know you will benefit from brief therapy - - because you already have.


Childhood memories can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on us.  We adopt views of those events and tell ourselves that's who I am, and always will be - - neglected, bullied, invisible.  These sad, negative and distorted memories can ruin our self-esteem for decades - - until we talk about them, and discover we are not defined by our past.  These memories and resulting poor self-image can influence our relationships, career choices, and lifestyle in a significantly negative way, leading to much unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We all have the personal power to overcome distortions and other thinking errors, which create barriers to personal happiness, to becoming whomever we wish to be - - a great friend, an involved parent, an emotionally available romantic partner, a happy soul.  You need not tote your past around as if it were a black cloud, always hovering. Therapy is intended to help you become the person you were meant to be - stronger, happier, and able to examine and discard beliefs about yourself and your life, that simply aren't true.

The person who says "I don't do counseling"...  might have everything to gain from a single conversation with a qualified professional.  Is that person you?

About the Author...

Kim Spicciatie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has facilitated hundreds of groups focusing on conquering symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, Bipolar Disorder, anger management, and has developed curriculums for use in creating positive and proactive behaviors and thought processes. Recently a program director for an outpatient substance abuse clinic, she now devotes all her time to a busy private practice in Holbrook, NY.

Last Update: 4/28/2014

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