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Three Things I Learned In My First Year As A Counselor That You Must Know

Written by: Jack Carmody, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I have been working with people trying to help them discover God’s best for their lives for over 15 years, but this past year was the first year I have worked independently as a counselor in a private practice. I saw almost 100 clients this year with varying backgrounds, beliefs, and problems. I wanted to share three trends that I observed. I think in reading about them you will be better equipped to engage your own life and the world around you.

Most People Do Not Have a Confidant

Most people that come to see me do not have anyone in their life with whom they can be completely vulnerable. Clients come to me with extremely painful life circumstances. After they finish telling me their story I often ask, “Who else knows about this?” It is shocking to me how often people respond to that question with, “No one.” It is possible to have a be married and/or have a lot of close friends, yet still be in a place where no one knows your deepest pain. This kind of isolation leaves people feeling lonely and discouraged.

In Galatians 6:2, Paul tells us that we need to bear one another’s burdens. We were not designed to carry the full weight of our lives alone! One of the best things you can do for your mental and spiritual well-being is to find a confidant, someone with whom you can be totally honest. A lot of the healing that happens in therapy comes simply from my clients sharing their burdens with me. A therapist can obviously fill this role, but a confidant can be anyone you trust. Finding such a confidant is challenging, but I promise you it will be worth the effort!

There Are Often Good Reasons Behind Bad Decisions

People come into my office in all kinds of predicaments. More often than not, poor life choices have contributed to their situation. While it can be tempting to judge, I have learned that people usually have very good reasons behind why they do the things that they do. By good, I do not mean morally good per se. Using drugs as a teenager is not a good decision. However, is it any wonder that the 15-year-old with the alcoholic father developed a substance abuse problem? Listening and understanding your spouse’s point of view is essential in marriage, while being dismissive is not a good choice. However, is it any wonder that a husband, who grew up without anyone ever listening to him, has trouble listening to his wife?

Is there is someone in your life making questionable choices? Before you judge or look down on them, be aware that there are probably good reasons for their actions. Alternatively, be patient, extend some grace, and seek to understand them. Maybe it’s you that has made some bad decisions or developed some unhealthy habits. Before you beat yourself up, take a moment to consider where these things came from. A good therapist can help you get a better understanding of the different contributing factors. Often, it can be helpful to look back before we can look forward. Speaking of looking forward…

People Who Do Not Take Ownership Often Remain Stuck

People that come to see me often feel stuck, either personally, professionally, or relationally. One of the main reasons people become stuck is because they do not take ownership. It is tempting to point the finger at other people and circumstances as the reason for our troubles (cases like abuse, health diagnoses, natural disasters, etc. are obviously in a different category). However, when we react this way, we give away all the power, and we will remain stuck. The focus needs to be on what you can do to affect change, and this step involves taking ownership. Jesus highlights this principle in the Sermon on the Mount, where he challenges his listeners to take the log out of their own eyes before they see the spec in someone else’s eye. We must take ownership in order to move forward.

For example, you may find yourself in a marriage that is unfulfilling. Often, the first instinct is to put the blame for the state of the marriage on the other spouse. What people fail to remember is that there is only one person who can change your spouse and it is not you! Placing the blame on the other spouse gives them all the power, and will keep you feeling stuck. It may be true that the “bad” spouse rarely initiates, doesn’t pick up after him/herself, and some days seem more interested in seeing what’s on Instagram than the marriage. Even if all those things are true, are there parts of the marriage where you can take ownership? Maybe you can introduce some much-needed positivity by paying your spouse a compliment take ownership. Maybe you can work on your passive-aggressiveness. Maybe you can take steps to forgive old wounds.


Hopefully, you have found these observations useful. I think you will discover that having a confidant will make your life feel a little lighter. Having empathy for peoples’ decisions, including your own, will help you react in more helpful ways. Lastly, when you start to feel stuck, always be looking for ways you can take ownership of the situation, and affect change in a positive way. Here’s to a great 2022!

Follow Jack on his Facebook, Linkedin and visit his website for more info.


Jack Carmody, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jack Carmody is a licensed counselor in the state of South Carolina (US), a military chaplain, and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Whichever of these "hats" he is wearing, his passion is to help people discover God's best for their lives. He is also the Veteran Coach for the TV show, "Military Makeover with Montel" which airs on Lifetime. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his family.



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