I work extensively with adults, both male and female, of all ages, faiths, ethnicities, and life phases. Generally the clients with whom I work are intelligent, successful, warm-hearted folks with solid values, and yet sometimes struggling with issues that cause conflict, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, grief, physical symptoms, sleeplessness, nightmares, and etc.

Counseling goals usually fall into two categories:  healing vs. coping.  When coping with difficult issues, the pain of the situation may be lessened and easier to handle, but it can still be felt.  When healing difficult issues, the pain of the situation is resolved.  Each client gets to decide their own goals—they can choose to cope with their issue, work to heal the issue, or both.

As you may have guessed healing goals are more ambitious and may require more time than coping goals.  The goals identified by clientsare as varied and unique as each individual.  Here are some of the more common issues.

Anxiety. There is always a reason for anxiety feelings; however, that reason is not always clear at first.  Anxiety symptoms tend to respond favorably to coping skills learned in counseling.  Healing modalities are also a good option for most individuals dealing with anxiety.An eclectic approach based on one’s individual story and personality is used to include, but not limited to, EMDR. When you’re in my counseling office, you are in charge.  You will never be pressured or pushed to do anything you don’t want to.

Trauma and Triggers.Traumas can be life-threatening [a “big-T” Trauma], but some are “little-t” traumas [i.e. humiliation, abandonment] that may not seem as traumatic and yet the individual is being triggered in such a way that they are experiencing problematic symptoms tied to the issue.  Some traumas are straight-forward, and it is understandable why post-trauma symptoms are being triggered [i.e. a car accident occurred and now the individual is experiencing nightmares of the crash].  Sometimes symptoms are occurring when there is no apparent causal factor [for example: one is triggered by panic symptoms when riding in a car in snow storms, but the individual has never been in an accident].  It’s not uncommon for a life experience to be “ill-programmed” in our memory banks in such a way that it results in distressing feelings and symptoms triggered by odd, random, or unidentified events.  It can be very confusing and upsetting, but there is good news.  Again, like anxiety, these symptoms tend to respond favorably when addressed in counseling.  And healing modalities to include but not limited to EMDR are also a good option for most individuals dealing with these symptoms.

Panic and Phobias.  These are similar to anxiety and post-trauma symptoms.  There is always a reason why panic symptoms and/or phobias are happening, although sometimes it is notimmediately apparent as to why these debilitating symptoms are happening.  In my experience as a therapist, these symptoms generally do respond favorably to healing in counseling.  [See EMDR]

Life/Work Stress.  Counseling is a great way to develop tools for decompressing from stressful life and work situations.  Like going for a day at the spa, counseling is something you do for yourself.  It fits in to the category of self-care.

Grief and Loss.  For some it is grief through death or divorce or other losses that prompt individuals to seek counseling often for the first time.  Friends and loved ones mean well, but they often don’t know what to say to be helpful.  Unfortunately time doesn’t heal all wounds.   It requires intentional and thoughtful grief-healing to arrive at a place of healing.  You’ll know your there when you can think of the loss without breaking-down into tears or feeling intense pain.  When working with clients recovering from grief and loss, identifying obstacles to progress and developing a forward momentum areeffective counseling goals.

Change.Similar to the grieving process, life changes often cause difficult struggles in the adaptation process.  It can often be helpful to see the situation through a fresh, new perspective.  Sometimes choices need to be made, and it can be helpful to have assistance from a counselor who is neutral rather than that of family or friends who may have a vested interest in your choices.

Conflict.Be it internal or interpersonal, resolving conflict is frequently addressed in counseling.  Living in a world with so many personality styles makes life interesting, but it also guarantees conflict.  For example, an individual with an extremely introverted style of interaction married to an individual with an extremely extroverted style will experience frequent conflict surrounding this issue unless or until they develop a middle-ground strategy that works for them both.  Another example: an individual might find that they have both introvert and extrovert tendencies within causing internal conflict.  “Part of me wants to go to this party, and another part of me just wants to stay home and read a book.”  One counseling benefit clients often speak of is the advantage of having a neutral person to be a sounding board and also to offer recommendations and strategies to process conflict in a private and non-confrontive environment.

Spiritual and Faith-Based Goals.Many clients request faith-based or counseling that incorporates their spiritual beliefs in progressing towards goals.  Counseling clients include individuals of many different faiths, religions, and belief-systems.  Every attempt will be made in counseling to determine your beliefs and incorporate your beliefs as much as possible within the treatment plan.  Clients have a right to know their counselors world view, which is given in the counseling mission statement:  “I am dedicated to helping clients—of every ethnicity, age, gender, religion, etc.—to achieve their goals in a caring, respectful, non-judgmental, and honest environment conducive to the therapeutic process. I provide professional services, based on Christian values, in an interactive style.”

Other.Many clients want to address counseling issues having to do with their involvement in upper- or middle-management, business start-up, sole-proprietorship, career mobility, and etc. that requires an understanding of business concepts and jargon.  Because of my background education and experience in business and the corporate world, these topics can be and are explored in depth within the context of counseling goals.