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Mary Ann Colf: Short term therapy can bring results


Posted: April 30, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Jeremy knew he wasn't feeling right, but he didn't know what to do about it. It seemed like all of the time, he felt either anxious or depressed. It started to take a toll on his family and affected his work, too. A friend of his had benefited from counseling, so Jeremy decided to give it a try. It took some time, but by talking out his feelings, he was able to get his life on better track.

Stressful things happen to people that leave them feeling uncertain, fearful and overwhelmed. Reaching out to friends and family often isn't enough to help put things into perspective because friends generally say what we want to hear rather than helping us see how we might be getting in our own way. Seeing a counselor in a confidential setting is a good way for people to sort through their problems and look at the choices they have in their lives. Being too close to a problem is like trying to look at a picture pressed up against one's face. It is out of focus and unclear. Therapy helps people step back and see the whole picture. Short-term psychotherapy can benefit people who are willing to commit themselves to the process of change. It does not allow time to delve deeply into the "why?" of situations. It focuses primarily on the "what do I do now?"

Brief counseling can help people examine various courses of action and look at the consequences of each. Many people stay in a bad situation because at least they know what to expect from it. They would rather suffer if they can at least predict the suffering rather than make a change and not be sure of what will happen afterwards. When emotion gets in the way of logic, good choices are seldom made.

Psychotherapy cannot do magic. But people who seek help and are motivated to making improvements in their lives and situations can make wonderful progress. It all depends on their willingness to step back and examine the fear that gets in their way.

Mary Ann Colf, MSW, LCSW, volunteer coordinator of the Brief Counseling Program for Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers. She supervises two USC graduate students in Social Work. Info: Val Verde (661) 257-4008, Canyon Country (661) 424-1220.


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