How to Make Better Choices and Gain Better Outcomes
We all can remember times we made less than good choices and ended up with outcomes we did not want that, perhaps, created more problems than that choice tried to solve. We often seek counseling in order to make better choices and get better outcomes. Too frequently we do not find counseling all that helpful. We still struggle to make better, in our long-term best interest choices.
The weakness of a lot of traditional counseling is that it tends to be problem focused. This approach operates on the assumption that to stop unhelpful behaviors we must identify our problems and why we have them. It assumes understanding can bring about needed change. While this can be somewhat helpful, it rarely produces the changes we want. At times, it can make things worse.
A problem centered approach almost always gets us focusing on the problem. When we do, two negative consequences occur. First, it is a fact that what we focus on gets amplified and magnified in our brains. A negative, problem focus just increases our awareness of our problems. From there, the second consequence is that we end up feeling bad about ourselves. I am reminded of a comment made by a husband who came out of a traditional marriage [problem focused] counseling session. He remarked to his wife, “I just think I got convicted of a crime I did not know I committed.” What is needed is a counseling approach that is not problem focused, but solution focused.
Out counseling approach operates on a simple conviction. When a person feels better about him or herself, he or she tends to make better choices. When we feel bad about ourselves, bad choices naturally follow. All that we do with our clients is intentionally designed to help them feel better about themselves, knowing that this empowers them to make better, long-term best interest choices.
This involves helping our clients learn how to replace all the negative messages they believe about themselves, and to replace them with a new set of messages that tell them of their value and worth. This is profoundly life changing when those new messages come from God’s truth – how he feels about [loves and delights in] each of us. We have learned through working with many clients that this works, as feeling better about yourself does make it easier to make better choices.
A second step in feeling better about oneself is to be able to project a bright future for oneself and his relationships and life. What produces confidence in one’s ability to make this bright future happen is gaining insights and mastering skills that equip us to move forward into that bright future.
This simplest way to describe our approach is that it is solution focused, skill based, grounded in a life empowering relationship with our Creator God, from which we experience his love and believe his “good news”.