Counseling.

The Good. The Scary. But is it really ugly?

October 1, 2018

Ashlee Buchert

I’ve noticed as I’ve been sharing on my instagram stories you guys have had a ton of questions and have asked for more insight into what counseling is really like. Well, here we are! Im ready to share it all.

First of all, it’s a myth that unless your marriage is in shambles you DO NOT need therapy. The truth is, if your marriage isn’t perfect you should probably look into marriage counseling. Even a tune up is so beneficial to any relationship. No matter if you get along or not, we all bring something from our past into our future relationships, so that right there probably nominates everyone reading this blog. So I’ve compiled some of the questions I’ve received since mentioning how beneficial it’s been to my marriage and personal well being.

Why did we start going?

We started going to save our marriage. We needed to understand each other and why we reacted so differently in times of disagreement.  I come from a family of passionate people. Confrontation was no big deal growing up. I watched it all around me. My parents would argue, a couple hours would pass, they’d make up, we’d all move on. My spouse did not have this experience at all. He came from a family of passive/passive aggressive. Maybe there was arguing but if there was, it was behind closed doors. He never, or I should probably say rarely, saw confrontation between his mother and step-dad, so as you can imagine, when things got heated in OUR marriage, I was okay with “fighting” and Brad wouldn’t know how to handle it. Can you imagine what 3 years of this felt like to someone that hated confrontation, someone that had this completely different idea of what marriage looked like?…. He was drained. I thought it was just part of marriage so to me, I was fine. It was just part of life I assumed….

So he sought out answers and help for us. Thank goodness!

What kind of counseling did we do?

1. We started with clinical counseling in Dallas TX. We had a female counselor. It was very much like what you see in the movies- price tag and all. I think her charge was $250/hour (yeah I know but when you’re marriage is being threatened there’s really no price tag too high). The office was very visually appealing, modern and comforting with many different seating styles. We usually chose the couch. I remember being able to touch things and hold things, like pillows and candy snacks on the table . Pretty sure this was to ease tension and give us some comfort because as you open up, you don’t want to sit still.

She’d ask questions, we’d speak. She’d ask our interpretation of the other person rather than speak. Then she’d give us coping skills. She did a lot of childhood reflection and made us realize for the first time we were a product of our environment BUT WE COULD CHANGE THAT.

 

2. The second type of counseling was through a Non-Denominational church in Boise ID. I’m not sure what triggered this but we knew we weren’t fixed and we could use some guidance. At this point, our finances were a little different too and so many transitions were happening. We had just moved from Dallas to Idaho once again and Brad had just “retired”  so I was the sole bread winner for my family. Looking back, this is probably what was so intriguing about this type of counseling. Our jaws dropped when we found out it was FREE.  Jon, our licensed counselor, was amazing. I loved this type of counseling just because it brought back a longing for my relationship with GOD and a better understanding of how to live my life according to the Bible. You may not be a Christian reading this, but I do believe we all feel a longing for something at our core and in our deepest darkest trials in life, we want and feel a need to turn to something. I loved how this counseling was a reminder of leading life the way God designed it. Everything was biblically based. It was a little harder for Brad being that a lot was faith based, but it really helped us keep to our priorities of God first, Spouse second, and Children third (boy did we have it all wrong). We were for the first time learning to put God at the top and our marriage above our children and even WORK. Something we were never really conscious of.  Work for us slipped up there too many times to that #1 spot….we knew why we were drawn to this type of counseling.

 

3. EMDR is the last type of counseling we’ve done and are currently using. Learn all about it here : http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/  When my therapist and I find a disturbing thought/memory she helps me trace back to the first time I remember feeling that way. Then using the eye movement desensitization method, it enables me to heal from the symptoms of emotional distress from disturbing life experiences. The crazy thing is, you don’t even realize the connection between a limiting self-belief and your past until you’re just chatting and all the sudden she uncovers something! It’s like a weight is being lifted. You become less sensitive to an idea you had about yourself, your marriage, your career, whatever it is that’s troubling you.

What did we get out of it?

My biggest takeaways: 

– God first, Spouse second and Children third. Due to this we both implemented strategies that would help us align these priorities.  

– We SCHEDULED US on our calendar. This helped us look at date night like a non-negotiable and we treated it as if we had a meeting for work.

– We received many homework assignments: Bible scriptures, acronyms and coping skills (more about this later).

From the non-biblical sessions:

– Thanks to a personality test, we developed a better understanding and patience for the other person. For example, when they say or do something you may not agree with, rather than passing judgment, you learn to come at it from a place of acceptance because you know WHY they feel the way they do.

– We were taught not only to take responsibility for our thoughts/actions but also recognize thought/behavior patterns that were unhealthy for a marriage (such as co-dependency).

When is it good to do Individual Vs Couple. Do I need both?

We’ve done both. We started with couple counseling and then moved into individual. Individual brings up things that have influenced who you are today. Things from your past environment and upbringing. I personally believe that a lot of what we bring with us into a marriage, comes from what we learned as children so being able to uncover limiting beliefs or past traumatic events becomes so powerful as you work through these events. In EMDR, you become desensitized to them.

 

Taking the first steps. What to expect.

Obviously this experience isn’t something that is easily accepted. Being vulnerable and confiding in someone you barely know, is hard for anyone at first; but remember, this person is a professional. A therapist is trained individual; they are bound my law to keep everything confidential. So, with that being said, the first steps are recognizing not only that, but that everyone needs guidance and you’re not alone. Many many people/couples attend therapy, they just aren’t as outspoken about it like I am. So once you get past the initial fears/concerns, trust the process and expect the following:

Expect to be a little uncomfortable at first. The first session is easy, it’s an intake where your therapist just asks questions and gets to know you. 

Expect to feel exhausted when you leave. I usually take the day off at that point or schedule your appointment for later in the day if you have to go back to work. You’re opening up a big can of worms and your emotions are running wild. But don’t let that stop you, it’s how you heal. 

Expect for it to take time. Give yourself several sessions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the therapist by the 3-4th session. You may need to try someone else if it doesn’t feel right.

Expect for it to run your pocket book $75-250 depending on your market. Remember, counseling through the church was free for us!

Expect the unexpected. With this you won’t have any unmet expectations. Just go in there open to change. Remember you’re doing this for future happiness! A little sacrifice of ego now or even $, will be so worth the life you want to acheive.

Now What?  Stay tuned for part two where I get into the specifics about our personalities and how that impacts the way we do life.

 

3 Comments

  1. JD Buchert

    Ashley,
    This was an incredible read. So proud of your life choices.
    Uncle JD

    Reply
  2. Virginia

    I am a therapist and love reading this!!!!!! So inspiring and it does take time & hard work and loved reading this from a client perspective. Know this was scary to write & proud of you!!! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Judie

    Therapy has been so helpful to myself personally and to our family. EMDR is an incredible therapy modality. It has helped my kiddo and she’s a different person all the way around!
    So happy for you and Brad. Praying 🙏🏽 for your continued healing and help. Keep sharing, it’s therapy for you and for others. 😘

    Reply

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