Counseling is difficult. It’s like an intense exercise of the brain, very similar to an intense physical workout- think Iron Man or Triathlon. It’s not easy; it pushes beyond your own mental limits and makes you question things that have always been your truth. It can be intense, heavy, and sometimes overwhelming- but worth it.

Let’s pretend you and I decide to get into the best shape of our entire lives. We decide to get a trainer and we push ourselves in and out of the gym. On day one, you and I are running further than we have in a long time and naturally start to feel uncomfortable. Our hearts are beating faster and our legs start burning and soon feel like giving up. But our trainer says “Push it! Push it! You can do it.” So we knock it out- tired but accomplished.

Now let’s consider the same scenario, we’re running more than we have in a long time and start to feel a pain scorching through our knees and into the hamstring area. Our trainer then tells us to “Stop.” Pain is a signal for the body to stop. Discomfort, on the other hand, is a different kind of signal- it says you could be on the verge of growth.

Knowing your body is the most important thing when working out. It’s important to know when to pull back and when to push further because your body is on the verge of growth– even though it’s uncomfortable.

Counseling is a lot like this. It will never be intended to cause you pain. That’s not the point. If counseling is causing you pain, something is not right. This isn’t to say that you won’t feel tough emotions, or taken to the point of discomfort. Feeling emotionally uncomfortable can happen in counseling- you may start feelings you’ve been pushing down for awhile or maybe have feelings you didn’t think you had in you.

Honestly, counseling can be quite difficult, especially in the beginning. It’s not easy to push beyond your own mental limits and then wait to see results that seem to take forever. But rest assured dear friend, when things in counseling get a bit uncomfortable, you’re on the verge of growth.

One of the hardest parts of counseling is endurance. Counseling is a marathon race not a sprint. As a result of pushing yourself and trusting your “trainer”/counselor, you can begin to feel different, create an outlook that’s different, and live a life that’s different.