A different kind of graduation
July 9, 2012 2 Comments
I’ve mentioned before that buddy here sees a therapist. This is not a new thing. She saw a counselor once before a few years ago but that wasn’t necessarily the ‘right’ person for her and there was a lot of issues around it. Fast forward a handful of years and she was able to get connected to a very talented and treasured therapist who saw buddy consistently for the past three years. That is a long time to be in therapy and there have been times when it’s been more frequent than others but there were lots of reasons for the long-term therapy approach with this girl.
The other day when I went to pick her up I didn’t get invited in at the end like I normally do. Instead, buddy marches out and says to me “I’m all done”. It took me a minute to realize what she was really trying to say, and she had to be somewhat more direct before I clued in, is that she was finished with counseling. As I put it, she graduated.
While counseling has been good for buddy and a very necessary piece of her life that has allowed her to move on from some pretty crappy things, it is not something that works in isolation or for everybody and it can’t necessarily “fix” some things that people want it to.
For instance, counseling doesn’t “fix” when you decide not to do your job as a parent. If you chose to never consequence your child, never set limits, never say ‘no’, or never hold your child accountable, you can travel the far corners of the earth looking for the most skilled clinician you can find and you know what, they won’t be able to make your child better behaved.
Counseling won’t “fix” a child’s behaviour if they’re acting out because they are being abused emotionally, physically or sexually.
Counseling won’t “fix” a child’s behaviour if they’re acting out because one of their parents are being abused emotionally, physically or sexually and therefore they are living in an unsafe home.
Counseling won’t “fix” a child’s behaviour if they’re acting out because they are being neglected and / or ignored.
What counseling does do is help people figure out what is wrong; help them process and learn how to cope with memories and experiences and thoughts and feelings; help them see things in a different perspective and learn how to take care of themselves in a different and hopefully healthier way; help them realize their goals and feel supported and find ways to move towards them and help them become the person they want to be.
For buddy, her counselor was someone who believed in her and supported her through some tough times and ultimately helped her learn how to cope with her life until she could do it on her own. She may need to go back some day. Life has a tendency towards ups and downs and there are times when the downs can be pretty tough – especially for someone who has no one. That’s okay though. It’s nice to know that if things start to get too rough again, she can always go back until she’s on her feet again.