Why I Quit Counseling


Much of my academic experience is based on counseling. Because of that, it’s one of the many hats I’ve worn over the years. I get into so much, it was also commonly the go to answer when people would ask me what I do. It commands respect. It speaks of vast academic experience coupled with a modicum of intelligence. It sparks interesting conversations.

But I hate counseling.

Most proper counseling takes place in an office, sitting in comfortable chairs, telling people how you feel, and being listened to. It’s pretty close to the stereotypical “sit on my couch and tell me about your problems” idea you get from tv. Most counseling doesn’t end in results. It actually culminates in more counseling. The modern practice of counseling is a conversational exercise that serves more to promote the job security of the counselor than the well-being of the patient. It’s so open ended that most counselor relationships end for one of two reasons- either the patient runs out of money or they get tired of the counseling sessions not producing any growth.

That’s not me, so I’ve quit counseling.

I was never a normal counselor anyway. I met most of my clients at bookstores and coffeeshops where the din of social activity gave us privacy but made it feel more like a social thing than a psychoanalysis. I have couches in my office, but my clients never sat on them. Usually we sat at tables and made plans and drew diagrams of future goals. I’m action-oriented, so most of my clients are sporadic in the long term. Don’t come see me every week on the same day at the same time. Instead, call me when you’ve done the assignment I gave you, made some progress, and are ready for a new challenge.

Some of my clients might say I still do counseling, but I disagree. At least don’t call it that. I’m not sure I like life coaching either. That term’s gotten kind of kooky over the years. I tell people these days that I run a think tank. Plans, goals, action. That’s what I do. Your feelings do matter, but how your mother treated you as a kid isn’t as important to me as what you’re doing right now.

Even so, I’m really sorry she made you dress in a sailor suit for your school photos.

This message was written by Dr. David Powers. You can always find me at www.drdavidpowers.com. Thanks for reading!

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