The Privilege of Knowing Another
Updated: Feb 21
I begin this confession with two personal truths.
I admire anyone who has ever gone to counseling.
I believe everybody needs to go to counseling.
Starting with the latter truth first. Of course, as a former professional counselor, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I believe everyone needs to go to counseling. Some might think I hold that truth because people going to counseling was good for business (although it was not ever about that for me).
I truly believe everybody needs counseling because we all have issues we need to face and work through. All of us…yes, even you 😊. We all live in the fallen world where we have experienced our personal brokenness and the brokenness of others. All this brokenness leaves us with injuries and wounds that need to be addressed and worked through.
Counseling is one of the best avenues for healing from life in the fallen world.
Second, I truly admire anyone who goes to counseling because, although we all need it, not all of us go. I went through a significant hurt during the early part of seminary, and I knew I needed to go to counseling. I knew it was a situation that was too big for me to walk through alone. But sadly, I talked myself out of it. It was a deep wound I carried around with me for quite a while. Too long actually. But just as there is not a statute of limitations on our injuries, it’s never too late for healing to occur.
Many people are probably like me, not going to counseling until we have to.
Sometimes the decision to see a counselor comes from a place of desperation. Because of crisis or conflict, it seems like the only option. We’ll do anything to help move from where we are to where we need to be. I saw this a lot when working with couples. One couple came to see me five years too late. The wife had asked to go years earlier and by the time they made the appointment (five years later), the wife had already filed for divorce. The husband (in this case) was desperate to do whatever it was going to take, but sadly, that time had passed.
Sometimes we go because a friend strongly encourages us to go. Maybe the friend has benefited from it and thinks you could, too. My favorite referrals were from friends who referred friends to me for counseling. There was already a trust established before they ever walked through the door. Their friend had benefited from counseling and that gave them hope that it would be beneficial for them, too.
Sometimes we go because we’re at our wits end and recognize the need for an outside perspective. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After the exhaustion of hitting our head on the same brick wall, some are willing to reach out for help. As a neutral outsider, a counselor can see the situation from a unique perspective, which is super helpful in changing both mindset and creative solutions.
Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure – going to counseling is not an easy thing to do.
Logistically, there is the challenge of finding a counselor and setting up an appointment (or waiting a while for your appointment these days).
Emotionally, the whole thing feels intimidating.
As both a counselor and someone who has benefitted from counseling, I was highly aware of how intimidating it is, especially the first appointment. Voices tremble and palms are sweaty because we open ourselves up to another, a stranger. We share intimate details of our lives, letting another see into our lives.
Sharing our stories - the good, the bad, and even the ugly, is incredibly vulnerable.
Part of sharing our stories brings about the deep desires to be known and loved and accepted. On the other hand, part of sharing our stories brings about the deep desires to protective self at all costs. Since self-protection is most likely the stronger of the two desires, we struggle with questions like -
Will I be judged by this counselor?
Will she think I’m crazy?
Will this help or am I a hopeless cause?
Even though these questions are all totally understandable, as a counselor, I want to share two additional truths.
It is a privilege to walk alongside someone in counseling.
It is a privilege to share a space of knowing another.
Judgment has no place in the counseling office. “Crazy” is not a word counselors use or think of clients. No one is a hopeless cause. Counseling helps (if you are willing to do the work!).
It is a privilege to walk alongside someone in counseling. As a counselor, it was an honor to walk with someone as they faced their woundedness and began the journey of healing. Seeing someone stretch outside their comfort zone and work on their issues was both exciting and encouraging. Again, everyone has issues, the question is whether you are working on those issues.
Also, it is a privilege to share a space of knowing another. To be a safe space for people to share the good, the bad, and even the ugly was an honor as well. It was always sacred ground when someone would say, “I’ve never shared this with anyone before…” By sharing what had been kept bottled away, I knew healing was about to exponentially occur.
You may be considering counseling but finding some of these barriers are getting in your way. I encourage you to be brave, be willing, and know that from the perspective of a counselor, it is a privilege to know you.