Dr. Noah H. Kersey Ph.D.
Many who need counseling either will not seek it or they come for
therapy and are not willing to make any changes in their lives. They
want others to change; they want their environment or circumstances
to change but they are resistant to doing anything different
It is surprising how much emotional pain a person can endure because
they have difficulty embracing the idea of change. Many individuals
have difficulty with the process of change because it can create
much anxiety getting outside one's comfort zone. For some, it's just
being a creature of habit and the known is more preferable than the
unknown. New habits, new methods of doing things, and changing
thinking patterns or behaviors take a great deal of energy and time,
as well as courage.
Courage can be defined as "the willingness to do something even if
you are afraid."
Given the choice of being with someone who is courageous or someone
who is fearless, choose the courageous person. Anyone who is without
fear can be a danger to you because they will take risks that could
get you hurt. The person with courage is willing to do what it takes
and will most likely be more careful about it because they do
experience fear. They are not paralyzed by fear; they are empowered
Seeking help and making changes in your life requires courage. If
you are willing to be different you are about a quarter of the way
to having a better life.
Some individuals will relate that they are willing to make changes
in their life but lack the drive or energy to actually do so. They
will begin the process by seeking therapy and they will express a
desire for change but will not make the effort necessary to actually
carry out the process.
The initial reason they are in counseling is that their life may
have deteriorated to the point of being in a state of crisis. They
may have become entangled in the legal system; been threatened with
loss of their marriage or family; or in danger of losing their jobs.
In addition, they may also be in emotional pain over such a length
time that their health has become an issue.
A crisis situation may be hurtful but it may also be helpful. In
many situations things may have to get worse before it gets better
for the change process to take place.
The Chinese have a written character in their language that has two
meanings. This character represents both the concept of danger and
opportunity. Therefore, a crisis can be a life disaster or calamity
but it can also be a means to making life better because it provides
a motivation for personal growth and development. Without a strong
drive for change, it is less likely to happen.
When an individual has both the willingness to improve and the
motivation to do so, they have half of what it takes to succeed in
the counseling process.
The old adage "quitters never win and winners never quit" basically
says it best.
Nevertheless, people tend to be impatient with the personal growth
process. Many of us want things and we want them right now. At least
those of us who lack the maturity to suffer delayed gratification
will express this urgency along with those who are experiencing
enormous distress in their life. However, we who believe that
"anything worth having is worth waiting for," will persist in the
pursuit of change, and are the ones who will prevail over adversity.
The counseling process requires such commitment and patience.
Without these two characteristics, many will rush into what they
think is a viable solution but eventually find the problem has not
really been resolved at all.
What is the true purpose of time?
The answer is "so that everything doesn't have to happen all at
once." Therefore, we must remind ourselves to stay the course and
allow the sequence of events to occur so that we can make positive
changes over the course of time. A formula for success I use in my
practice is also the definition of "learning" as we use it in
therapy. That formula is: L= c/t x E [or learning is any change that
occurs over time as a result of experience]. The "over time" part of
this formula is crucial to the learning process and is required
because real and lasting change rarely occurs instantaneously.
The key to success in counseling, or in any task in life, aside from
having the willingness and the motivation to change [adapt or learn]
is to stay the course of therapy and realize that interpersonal
problems develop over many years and it will take time to resolve
them. If you possess or develop these attributes in the initial
phase of counseling you will be three quarters on the way to
Faith is the final and most critical step in creating success.
If a person does not believe in themselves or in what they are
doing, it becomes almost impossible to accomplish any project or
task. In other words, the more you believe in something, the more
you increase your chances of being successful at it.
The concept of belief in oneself or belief in a process seems simple
and we can usually agree about the necessity of it, but there are
still those who fail because they do not possess the strength of
faith to accomplish their goals.
One of the reasons people will suffer great and enduring emotional
distress is that they do not believe counseling or psychotherapy can
help them. They have seen multi-media programs that disparage
individuals who seek counseling, or portray counselors and
psychotherapists in an unflattering manner. Some may view counseling
as for the weak and cowardly. Each person fails when they have
little or no faith in the healing process of change. The successful
individual understands that it takes believing in yourself and in
others to accomplish a goal or task. They realize that a certain
amount of trust needs to be placed in a well-trained, well-educated
health care provider or at least explore their lack of trust issues
with the therapist in the beginning phase of counseling.
This lack of trust in others may stem from early childhood issues
and be a primary source of a person's pain. For those of us who are
believers and possess a faith in God, we have a means outside
ourselves to succeed. Harvard University and the National Institute
of Mental Health both undertook a research project to disprove the
power of prayer and both studies resulted in seeing a significant
influence that prayer has in healing. It is encouraging that two
secular institutions could inadvertently support the power of faith.
Overcoming adversity and gaining achievement is a culmination of all
four attributes of willingness, motivation, commitment, and faith,
and with them you can have a complete opportunity of success in
therapy as well as any reasonable goals you set in life.
Dr. Kersey has been providing mental
health services since 1977 and provides services for individuals,
couples, families as well as groups. He has a special interest in
areas of co-dependent relationships, adoption issues, marital
therapy, as well as stress of life issues. Dr. Kersey is a licensed
psychologist and has been practicing in Indiana since 1987. You may
contact him at his website: