Psychobabble, psychobabble, psychobabble. Have you ever wondered why you hear so much of it? Honestly, it is because we, counselors, tend to think that it makes us sound smarter. Here’s the thing, it does make us sound smarter, but is it really going to help you change? My guess is that you already know the answer to that question, “Maybe a little.” It is helpful to put words and terms to complex issues of mental health and relationships, it builds a foundation for more effective talk and understanding. But that isn’t the “end-all,” “be-all” of true counseling.
What Is It and What is the Point of Psychobabble?
As you enter the counseling office, does a complex array of psychologically powered words await? If it does, then you have entered the realm of psychobabble, which unleashes the feeling of near superhuman relational understanding, setting you high above the peons of lesser relationally minded folks. Are you feeling powerful yet? Well, you should, and that is the point of the secret vocabulary of the counselor in office. It is literally meant to make you sounds smart and feel like you understand relationships better than others. The problem is that joining into a system that simultaneously pumps up your ego, and your counselor’s ego, is a dysfunctional relationship. Unless I am mistaken, you weren’t coming for another one of those.
So What Works in Counseling?
Now you are asking the right question. The biggest problem with most counseling is the counselor, and their attempts to sound or look like they are really good. It is actually easier to pull this off than you might think. Smile, nod, point out a pattern or connection to the past, and ask a deep sounding question, “How do you feel about that?” If you have been to counseling, then you probably know how this goes. But counseling is actually an incredibly complex and challenging relationship between counselor and client. It requires putting aside all pretenses and being honest, truly caring for the client, and not trying to sound good or make them think that you are special.
If I am going to be genuine with you and actually help you grow, then I have to be willing to grow too. This is an uncomfortable prospect because that means you are asking me to step into places with you that people have otherwise been unable or unwilling to go. It requires confrontation. You are asking me to see you, understand you, and help you walk through all the defenses that your brain has set up to keep you locked down.
Learning Concepts in Counseling.
There are many concepts of relationships that require explanation in order to understand them, and work them through. This is really important. A good counselor should be teaching these concepts to you, and not just using them to make them sound smart. Great for a counselor’s ego to use big terms, but not so great for you if you don’t know what they mean.
So What Should Counseling Look Like?
When good counseling takes place, change happens and you are able to work through issues in the process. You build momentum, you enter into stories, and things really heat up. When this happens, you encounter yourself, you see yourself, and have to confront yourself in a way that actually changes pathways in your brain. You come to understand yourself, and what you have been through beyond a cognitive level, to a level of experience where true change and healing occurs. This is what I want for you: counseling where change happens and new doors open up for you to live life with joy and satisfaction.
Friend, as people, we naturally have blind spots that might leave our thoughts looping in a circle, so if you need some help in this process, let me know.
Images cc: freedigitalphotos.net – “Psychiatrist Examing A Female Patient” “Psychiatrist Examing a male Patient” by Ambro