Monday, March 18, 2013

Couples Counseling 101

Do you and your spouse constantly struggle with communication? Are you feeling less and less connected to him/her? Are your interactions becoming more negative? These are major warning signs of a relationship in trouble and possibly on the road to failure.

If wishes could be granted, my wish would be that as soon as a couple see warning signs in their marriage they would seek help...immediately!    Immediately! Do not pass Go...Do not collect $200....

Unfortunately this is not always the case. When many couples have waited to see me, they have allowed years of issues to fester.  These issues breed feelings of resentment and bitterness which grow at an almost exponential rate. Before I can even begin to help a couple with the original problems, we have to work through the years of built-up resentment and bitterness.  Some couples greatly struggle just to work through these feelings...

Counseling should NOT be the "last ditch" effort, the "fast food drive-thru" if you will, before meeting with the divorce attorney.  If you and your spouse are struggling, I strongly encourage you to seek help.  Whether the help be from a professional counselor or a pastor, please do not put it off.   You may save yourself years of heartache and regrets!

Lastly, I am a huge proponent of preventative medicine!  Research shows that the best time to do couples counseling, marital therapy, or marital enrichment is when things are going well!  Yes!  You heard me! When spouses feel good about each other they feel safe in the relationship and thereby want to make their relationship even better!   

Written by Melissa Yoak, LPCC, director of DaySpring Counseling.  Melissa specializes in working with couples and families.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Counseling?

You could be feeling overwhelmed or depressed.  Perhaps you're experiencing anxiety or uncontrolled anger.  Maybe you find yourself constantly fighting with your spouse.   Then someone suggests, "Have you thought about talking to someone?"

Before you take this suggestion negatively, become offended and/or wonder if you are crazy...know something very important....counseling is good for everybody!

Yes, that is exactly right...counseling is and should be for everyone.

Who is without pain in this life?  Family and friends die.   We all are under a lot of stress. Unless you are the one of the very few lucky couples in the world, marriages can face a lot of challenges.  Not to mention the tug of war that parents feel pulled in while making decisions for their children.

So what can counseling offer in these circumstances?

1.  Perspective
In a nut shell, it is sometimes really difficult to see outside of ourselves.  Even if we are introspective, sometimes we just miss that one small way of looking at something differently.  A counselor can be that objective voice that guides us to see our circumstances in a different light.   In the marital game of "you are the problem," a counselor can really help couples see each person's part in their marital problems.

2.  Support
Many people don't have a support system. No spouse. Uninvolved parents.  No friends.  Or, their life may be full of these relationships but they don't feel they can be vulnerable or supported in these relationships.  Counselors can offer the support through encouragement and validation of feelings that is needed.

3. Reparenting
Parents are largely responsible for imparting wisdom to their children.  Unfortunately, if parents don't have wisdom, they don't have it to give to their children.  These children then grow into adults in need of healthier thinking patterns and effective ways to communicate.  Counseling can offer this guidance that helps people to "reparent" themselves in a positive way.

And one final important thought: counseling is Biblical.

Sometimes clients come to our office feeling somewhat embarrassed or ashamed for being in therapy.  They think that somehow they are crazy or inadequate    That's when Proverbs 1:5 becomes really handy...  "A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel."