We all have personal obstacles that block us from growth, and therapy is no exception to this! I am blessed to be working with some individuals and couples who work extremely hard in their personal recovery, and each of them have navigated their way through one of the most common obstacles I see in my office every day: Recognizing that insight alone is not enough-- Healthy changes need to accompany your "Ah-Ha" moments. Let's discuss this further! Insight is a powerful thing! It is what helps us understand ourselves and recognize why we are the way we are. But insight isn't enough to sustain healthy changes. Often, individuals and couples will come to therapy willing (or eager) to talk about or explore their past and what some of the reasons are for why they might behave certain ways, but when it comes time to follow through with making the behavioral changes, they continue to avoid doing so. I'm certainly not trying to downplay the need for insight! We all need to understand ourselves and what motivates us, both in healthy and unhealthy ways. Unfortunately, insight isn't enough for transformation and change in counseling. Insight needs to be combined with following through with healthy changes in behavior, in order to make a real difference in recovery.
For example, are you a conflict avoider? Perhaps you have decided to delve in and gain insight into what makes conflict so scary for you. Maybe you grew up with a parent who raged or didn't allow you to have a voice, which causes you to see conflict in a negative and destructive way. You might be able to connect to how fearful and ashamed you felt when someone used conflict destructively in your life as a child, and have grieved that sense of powerlessness or recognized that as an adult, you are entitled to have a voice in your feelings, thoughts, and needs. Perhaps you have recognized that your feelings of powerlessness belonged in your childhood and your significant other (or the person who stirs up this similar childhood feeling of fear about confrontation) is, in fact, NOT your parent-- you don't have to allow them to treat you disrespectfully. This would be great insight! However, this insight isn't enough to bring about true growth. Using this insight to make behavioral changes is the second step to growing in counseling. Behavioral changes would be taking steps to do something different-- setting boundaries, telling someone how you feel and what you need. Often times, the behavioral changes can be more difficult than gaining the insight, but without them, we stay stuck in our recovery process. Understanding ourselves is important, but it must be combined with behavioral changes to make true progress. Is this a block for you in your growth?
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.