I’ve been a consumer of counseling services throughout my adult life. I have had some experiences that were great. Some others not so much. My hope for you is that your experiences will be great too. However, I do understand why people say that counseling doesn’t work. It makes me sad that there are people searching for answers and don’t find them. So why is it that counseling doesn’t work? Well, it’s inaccurate to say this. But there are some reasons that explain why some people say this. I’d like to suggest four reasons why counseling might not work for some people.
The first reason people say counseling doesn’t work is that they have the wrong counselor. Being in therapy is being in a relationship. The relationship between counselor and client is the greatest predictor of counseling results. If the relationship isn’t one of trust, it will be difficult to make progress. A relationship that includes empathy, understanding, encouragement, and collaboration have an increased potential for positive results. However, if the two don’t feel connected, the desired results are less likely. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right counselor, one that you connect with and can be yourself with.
This may seem a little technical. Many counselors have a particular counseling theory that they use to treat people. If this is the case, it is important that you find a counselor whose preferred theory is effective in treating the problem you want to work on. For example, if you were looking for a therapist to treat depression, cognitive behavioral theory and rational emotive theory would be effective theories. However, there are some theories that are less effective for treating depression. Another example is psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a good theory if you were planning on long-term intensive therapy. However, if you were looking for brief therapy that only lasted a few weeks or months, it might not be the best. You need a counselor that uses a theoretical framework that would good for the problem you want to work on.
Ok, maybe wrong motivation isn’t the best way to put it. Perhaps a better way to put it is that some people lack the motivation to yield the desired results. As mentioned, the relationship between counselor and client is important. However, so is the client resolve to work for change and work on their problems. One reason that counseling doesn’t work is that people don’t genuinely collaborate on their problems with their counselor. An example of this is homework. In some situations, a counselor might give someone homework assignments to work on between sessions. Some people may not take this seriously and either not do it at all or do it at the last minute. In cases similar to this, it is probably true that the counseling is not going to have the desired results. If the client is not motivated to work on his or her problem, therapy is not likely to be successful.
Another reason people might conclude that counseling doesn’t work is that it’s the wrong time. There could be many reasons that it might be the wrong time. If you don’t have the time to work on you then it might not be the right time for therapy. This might especially be the case in group or family therapy. A group or family might want to work on something in therapy but have someone in their group who is not ready or willing to be a functioning group member. In this case, the rest of the group can still work on their issues. Hopefully, in time the group member will all be motivated to work together as a family or group.
I’m sure you have heard people say “counseling doesn’t work.” And in their experience, this was probably true. However, a good counseling relationship accompanied by the adequate motivation for therapy can yield positive results.