What is Good Mental Health?
About Dr. Lee
L.I.F.E. Management Systems
D. Lee Stoltzfus, M.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Founder and President
Licensed Psychologist #8607
Marriage and Family Therapist #6746
Individual, Couple, Family and Group Psychotherapy
Life Coaching and Executive Coaching
Why Seek Counseling?
To quote Dr. Scott Peck, the author of the best seller, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult”. Life does indeed present us with many difficult, large and important challenges. Perhaps the biggest and most important ones are:
1.) Who am I?
2.) How do I want my life to be?
3.) How can I achieve my dreams and goals?
4.) How can I be happy and live in harmony with others?
We all are seeking to make our lives work, to find meaning, purpose, love and fulfillment. These questions and challenges can seem daunting, if not overwhelming at times.
Many of us are too afraid or embarrassed to discuss these issues and feelings with our family or friends, fearing we will be judged or criticized by them. Others believe they must be strong and not reveal their doubts, fears and insecurities to anyone else. Being open and vulnerable is just too hard and scary for them. Still others know that those closest to them don’t have any better answers than they do.
Without others to turn to for safety, help and support, we try to ignore, deny or rationalize our problems, while others turn to destructive habits and addictions to escape their pain, unresolved dilemmas and traumas. But none of this ultimately resolves our feelings of anger, pain, confusion, sadness, loneliness, guilt and even despair.
Fortunately, more and more people today are realizing that rather than being a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength and health to face up to our problems and ask for the help and support we need. Many people also realize that seeking the help of a trained and licensed counselor or psychologist is not just an option, it is a very smart and helpful decision. Seeking professional help also indicates a desire to overcome our challenges and move forward, living a life of purpose, meaning and fulfillment.
Counseling and psychotherapy affords us a safe environment in which to explore our feelings and challenges without fear of criticism or judgment. This experience allows us to define and clarify our values, options and choices. We are then empowered to create a life of direction, purpose, integrity and fulfillment, answering our deepest and most profound questions and needs.
What Is Counseling and Psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy and counseling are processes to help you make your life work better, to help you feel better and for helping you learn and grow in ways that you want or need to. Psychotherapy and counseling are known as “the talking cures.” They are avenues for healing your psychological conflicts and wounds, and creating new, more positive behaviors.
Psychotherapy and counseling are means of bringing comfort and healing to your mind, body, emotions, and even your soul. (The original Greek word, psyche, means soul. Therefore, psychology means soul talk, or words from or about the soul. Psychotherapy means therapy or healing for the soul.) You can then see that when well practiced, psychotherapy and counseling are holistic techniques designed to help you learn and grow in many ways, literally helping you achieve your full potential as a unique human being with all your many emotional, mental, physical and spiritual facets. Psychotherapy and counseling are powerful tools for becoming a fully developed and well-integrated person.
The process of therapy occurs through observing, analyzing and nurturing your important relationships: with yourself, your family, your loved ones and friends, your co-workers, etc. This occurs during a series of private and confidential meetings with your therapist over a period of weeks or months, depending on your needs, values, goals and choice.
Psychotherapy and counseling are based on a body of scholarly and scientific literature, but knowing the facts and theories alone won’t make anyone a good therapist. Psychotherapy is also based upon intuitive, creative and empathic skills and abilities. As Dr. Rollo May states, “Good therapists are both born and made.” Therefore, good therapists have had their own psychotherapy, developing a significant level of awareness, compassion and health. They also have had a significant level of training and education to develop their skills, knowledge and professionalism. In fact, the best therapists are constantly reading, learning and growing in order to improve “their practice of psychotherapy.”
It is clear that even though there are hundreds of theories and models of personality and psychotherapy, the research indicates that many of these can be and are useful to therapists and helpful to their clients. No one theory is the only way to work with a certain person or even a certain problem. What the research does demonstrate is that it’s the quality of the relationship between the therapist and client that is the most important factor in the success of psychotherapy. This means that the well-trained therapist who provides a warm, caring and unconditionally accepting relationship is most likely to see his/her clients learn, grow and be successful in achieving their therapeutic goals.
Therefore, an essential condition in your counseling or psychotherapy is to feel comfortable with your therapist and be confident about his/her character, i.e., believe this person is a caring, kind, honest, trustworthy, mature and healthy individual. You need to feel comfortable with your therapist and believe he/she can and will help you.
Working with an excellent therapist is like looking at your life from many different camera angles and through various lenses. Some times he or she may help you use a close up lens to carefully examine the details of your life, which you may have overlooked or have found too difficult to see or understand. At other times he/she may have you back up and use a long shot to see the “big picture” of your life, some times looking at your past history for important developments and at other times looking at the future and helping you decide where you want to be. In any case, a skilled therapist will help you create and direct your movie, a movie called “This Is My Life.”
So we strongly encourage you to choose your therapist carefully to make sure your “movie” gets great reviews, especially from you, and secondly from the most important people in your life.