Rise up and tackle the issue with enthusiasm!


Since the advent of the counseling profession, therapists have been interested and fascinated by the “why”question.  Similarly, their clients were puzzled, and perhaps even plagued, by their own self-defeating behavior.  The very understandable lament, “Why do I do these things?” is a common narrative to be heard in the offices of clinicians. 

Certainly, the pursuit of a client’s history is a logical part of the therapeutic process.  An emergency-room physician will likely ask a grimacing patient how their bruised face or broken limb was acquired, for example.  Such information will often assist in the development of a treatment plan for the suffering person.  But, at some point, the practitioner must get on to the goal of healing after enough background is gathered. 

Moving away from the example of the ER room and back into the counselor’s office, we can see how the garnering of personal history, childhood influences, and even genetic pre-disposition continues to be a focus.  Certainly, men and women who possess the capacity for personal insight are attractive clients to their well-educated clinicians. It is almost human nature for any of us to be develop a favorable attitude about people who are like us.  In short, we like people like us.  And we likely develop treatment strategies that mirror methods that we would appreciate, were we sitting in the client’s chair. The “why” question is comfortable for clinicians and insightful clients alike.

But what we, as counselors, might appreciate in process is not necessarily what is best for the client.  Ultimately, what is the goal of any therapeutic intervention, be it physical or psychological?  Is it to learn why a given situation exists or is it to improve or ameliorate the issue or problem?  Presumably, the latter is the case.

In my private practice, I am confronted with the “why” question.  A husband sincerely asks why he struggles in his relationship with the wife whom he loves.  A college student may wonder why she doesn’t seem able to drink moderately in the same manner that her sorority sisters can.  And so on.  The search for why persists.

Sometimes the solution is more evident than we realize.  The Nike sporting goods tagline eloquently exhorts “Just Do It.”  This directive to act, rather than ruminate, is very good advice.  Exploring ways to communicate with one’s spouse is a better investment of therapeutic time than reviewing the latest argument or dispute.  Changing old patterns of behavior and adopting new ones serves the problem drinker more usefully than digging into early experiences, recent train wrecks, and genetic legacies.

Pleasing our partner or learning to avoid ”wet faces and places” eventually leads us to happier unions and sober daily functioning.  As your favorite shoemaker tells us,  “Just Do It!!!!!!”

                                                    “All progress occurs outside your comfort zone.”