The Counseling Process

There are many forms (modalities) of counseling. Some are more appropriate than others for certain kinds of struggles. It is best to do a little homework before selecting a counselor. What follows are very broad categories to consider:

* click on a category to a view a description

Substance Abuse/Addiction Recovery

It is more effective for the sufferer to seek a means of achieving abstinence first. This should be done in collaboration with a knowledgeable doctor and community like Alcoholics Anonymous in cases of substance abuse (a person who has or is using substances in an experimental, recreational or occasional way).

In cases of addiction, one who has crossed over from occasional use to dependence needs medical and psychological help. Addicted people suffer not only emotional dependence but their bodies have adjusted to require the substance to feel they can live. The dependence has taken priority in their lives. Determined by the substance and the severity, outpatient or inpatient services should be sought. It is very important for the addict to experience professional assistance during their physical and emotional transition from addiction, through withdrawal, to abstinence. Many times, medical assistance is needed during this process.

Each of these avenues requires a clear transition plan and process that integrates the abuser/addict into productive living, with a support mechanism available for the client's long term success. Ask the provider to explain, in sufficient detail, what they provide in this area. If they do not address this, seek other options. It is supremely important that successful abstinence is achieved, but of equal importance for long term success is the transition plan, and long term support.

Cognitive/Behavioral therapies

Many people achieve relief from habitual behaviors and compulsive thinking through this modality. This is particularly effective for those who experience various forms of phobias (fear of closed spaces, elevators, heights, spiders etc.).

Psychodynamic therapies

This modality assumes trauma of various forms has arrested some form of development. The process is self explorating, seeking to understand and experience whatever is necessary to get unstuck. Generally this form of therapy is experienced as a self exploration, with the therapist being an interpreter of client thoughts and experience memory.

Object Relations, intersubjective therapies

This modality assumes a large population suffers from relational and developmental harm. The modality is one in which the client and therapist are in relationship. The very process of relating creates what, for many clients, has never been experienced before. The process integrates a personal narrative from fragmented forms to a coherent form, in which the person discovers who they are.

The premise is that people become observers of their unconscious selves. The unconscious self is that part of a person that operates automatically under stress, danger or life and lover in relationship with others. It is that part of the self that operates for the most part out of sight and direct awareness. What is expressed toward other in an unhealthy way is actually a symptom or expression of very powerful unconscious emotions.

Once one can see beyond the symptomatic behaviors and attitudes to awareness of their powerful emotions, choices become possible. Automatic responses become manageable and sometimes completely disarmed, to allow for thoughtful choices and responses under equally stressful circumstances.

Biblical Counseling

This modality comes in many flavors, from Bible only obedience on one end of a spectrum to an integration with non-religious or multi-religious formulas on the other end.

Paradigm Counseling of Puget Sound positions itself with a Biblical bias, meaning the self is understood within the frame that people are created creatures of a creator God who has endowed humans with distinct attributes that make them creative, thoughtful, and initiators. The consequence of this endowment means humans are responsible for the outcome of their actions and the repercussions of those actions on others.

My modality is Psychodynamic, Object Relations, Intersubjective counseling, while utilizing useful aspects of the other modalities listed above.

You would experience with me a form of counseling that is relational. It assumes healing occurs within, and as a consequence of, relationship. It also assumes much of what concerns clients or is out of control or habitually done has a significant felt or emotional source that often overwhelms rationality and behavior. It is unconscious, feeling very normal, the only way to survive life, yet is unproductive, relationally unsatisfactory or harmful to oneself and/or others.

The goal of counseling is fourfold:

  1. To gain awareness of what erupts or overwhelms within, with as much dimension as possible.
  2. To develop a reflective position which is open to understand, and consider options before acting.. It is to develop the capacity to contain what overwhelms so emotions can be known, and discharged or held while thoughtful behavior is considered and becomes the outcome.
  3. To transition from a fragmented awareness and history to one that is coherent with wellbeing as the result.
  4. To tolerate the in between, what is gray, not black or white, true or false, without having to force issues into true or false categories.