How to Know if you Need Counseling to Recover from Your Past

guy and girl leaning on wall

Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.

“We all come from dysfunction families, the question is not “if” but simply, “to what degree” are you dysfunctional!”

-Counselor Bob

This is one of the first memories I have being in professional counseling. It was our pre-marital counseling and our counselor Bob had a reputation for really messing with couples. He prided himself on breaking up at least an engagement or two per year. Bob was smart, witty, quick and shrewd. I remember hearing that quote from above and thinking to myself, “No way, he’s wrong…Michelle and I will be different”

Why Do We Fear Counseling?

For whatever reason we’re all scared of counseling because (in a sense) we’re more scared to be known. The thought of somebody (a trained professional) uncovering the deepest dysfunctions, secrets, and addictions of our lives might be the one of the most frightening possibilities that any one of us will ever face!

Here I am 14 years and 4 kids later and you know what? HE WAS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Michelle and I both bring our dysfunctions to our marriage. They come out in a myriad of complex ways. Here is a quick sampling of our issues:

  • Our “crazy cycle” communication that can occur when she feels unloved and I feel disrespected (notice the word, “feels”).
  • How a clean, tidy house represents two totally different things to us (for a variety good of reasons I value it, for a variety of good reasons she doesn’t as much).
  • How important regular oil changes and car maintenances are for her and how unimportant it is to me. (We’ve had many a fight on this issue).
  • That when I say “I’ll be home at 5:30 for dinner” means that I’ll be home at 5:30 for dinner…not 5:35 (anybody else relate??).

When Our Enemy Becomes Our Comfort

ponte-vecchio-691789_640I tell you all of this because what we started out vehemently disagreeing with (mainly that every couple is dysfunctional) has actually become a source of comfort, humor and understanding for us. We have found that embracing our crazy idiosyncrasies empowers us to move forward, grow and change.

So how do you know if you need counseling to recover from your past? Here’s a quick questionnaire to help navigate that important decision. If you answer “yes” to more than half of these you’re going to want to get some help:

  1. Are you alive? (If yes, you probably should see a counselor)
  2. Are there past events that keep coming up when you tell your story?
  3. What is the dominating negative emotion in your life? Is that emotion rooted in a family-system, a false belief or a negative experience of the past?
  4. Are you satisfied with the health, depth and quality of your most important relationships?
  5. Are there still areas of your past that you work intentionally to cover up? What are those areas? Do those areas become the central focus of your life for extended periods of time (ie- I can’t function until I…)?
  6. Are you uncomfortable taking a questionnaire about your emotional and relational health right now?

The Wisdom of Another

There are two kinds of people in the world…those who are in (or “have been”) in counseling and those who should be. Take the risk, make the call, and book the appointment. There’s power in the wisdom of another!

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

About the Author:

Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.

Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR.

Addiction Hope is proud to announce the initiation of a special Christian Track of blogs and articles to commemorate the blessing of our sister site, Eating Disorder Hope’s 10th year anniversary. Watch for further content noted as “Christian Track”.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 22nd, 2015
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