People change. That’s, in fact, an important reason why counseling is effective. Clients typically come in because there are aspects of their life they want to improve – whether it’s something within themselves, their environment, or the people around them. Today, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the change process.
Recently, during a group therapy session with adolescents, I heard several statements such as, “My mom always does that. She’ll never change” or “That’s just how I deal with things and it’ll be that way forever.” After some processing, the group agreed that they partially seemed opposed to the idea of change because the unknown outcome of it is daunting. One member asked, “What if we put a lot of effort into making changes and nothing comes out of it?” It seems like an obvious question, but it led us to have a larger discussion on the idea that change doesn’t have to be limited. Whether it consists of reevaluating our most core beliefs or something as simple as wearing a different colored sweater every now and then. Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone, even briefly, can be a powerful step towards a positive change.
At the end of session, I challenged the group to come up with one change they’d like to work towards. One of my personal “change goals” is to challenge myself to be proactive about trying new things. Reflecting back on my undergraduate years, I remember how enjoyable it was to discover new things. I wanted to take unique classes, liven my palate, expand my taste in music, and commit to all sorts of out-of-the-box hobbies. Although I have a better idea of my preferences now that I’m older, it’s refreshing to know that there is a lot more I could explore.
Sadaf Siddiqi is a certified counselor with an interest in mental health research and its application to children and families. Please share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.