Every client I work with wants to feel better. Better is usually at least one step of improvement and rarely the sense of being “all better” or perfect. It is amazing how just one step in the right direction can make a counseling client feel better. This feeling is desirable, it can also be motivational. One step into feeling better creates the promise of more promising steps.
Counseling is intended to make things better but not every session provides that result. Such as the case of a client of mine experiencing depression several years ago. The young woman was mentally and emotionally “Stuck,” in her words. She couldn’t move through her daily routine with any motivation.
After a few sessions I asked her, “Is this depression fact based or fear based?” She pondered the question and responded that she had thought she would say it was fact based but that on further quiet investigation she said, “…it’s really fear based.”
We were then able to push through the fear holding her hostage in her own home using just one step out of the prison her depression had become. I had her consider which chore in her home is easiest for her. The one task she decided on was to unload the dishwasher and only unload it with no additional cleaning. We agreed that this is one step she could take and that no other steps were required right now.
On her next session she reported having done the dishes (both unloading and loading) and then she paused. “I had forgotten what it felt like to just get something done.” She said with a calm and resolute tone of voice. A psychiatrist shared this equation with me: Suffering = Pain X Fear. “All resistance is fear.” He said.
We can control our fear but we can’t always control the pain we have. We can take one step away from what we are afraid of and feel the distance that gives us from our suffering.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., L.P.C.
Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can do, try or practice over the weekend to feel a little bit better by Monday