Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Seek Counseling. Its a Gift. For Yourself.

Laura Mangin McDonald, MA, LPC

In June 2007, my husband and I lived in Texas and shortly after the birth of our son, I sought out a licensed professional counselor. Limited by insurance lingo and in-network jargon, I picked two random names from a list and left two voice mails.

Counselor #1 returned my call and we set an appt for about a week out.  In the meantime, I did not hear back from Counselor #2.  I finally met with Counselor #1 and within 20 minutes Counselor #1 was ready to write me a prescription and move to her next appointment.  I left frustrated. That was not what I wanted.  I wanted someone who would take the time to talk and help me. Immediately after my appointment, that afternoon, I came home to a voice mail. It was Counselor #2, apologizing for the late response, she had been on sabbatical and was just getting to client calls. Please don't miss the significance, I had a message waiting for me from Counselor #2, immediately after leaving Counselor #1's office. This is called Divine Timing.

I returned her call, we talked briefly and then very matter of fact she said, "I work from a home office and I have a few pets that are in my sessions, will that be a problem for you?" I was so thrown off guard, I almost laughed, instead I said, "Uh, no. That's not a problem for me."

When I arrived for my appointment, a cat scurried by me as I rang the doorbell.  Cat waited at the door with me as if it had an appointment too. Seeing a counselor is nerve wracking, it's like a scarlet letter on your chest that screams "Hey! I got problems!  I'm a mess!". It can be intimidating and I was being distracted from my anxiety by a cat.  Then Counselor #2 answered the door with a small menagerie of animals wagging their tails at me. The waiting cat brushed past me inside the house and then I walked in. I was so preoccupied trying to count all the furry friends that I forgot to be nervous.  
  Counseling in session

In my first session, I tried to present a cool confidence that I didn't feel. I efficiently summed up why I was there; what I needed to talk about, what I didn't need to talk about and what I needed 'fixed' in my life. She listened, looked at me thoughtfully and smiled.  And just as I needed - we talked.  Much later, we laughed about that moment; how I tried to neatly package up and present my messy, tangled up life. 

Because of the time I spent in Laura's office, amidst the flurry of furry friends, I was able to learn some really, really important things.  She consistently poured into me such powerful truths that it truly changed me and my life. Laura impacted me in such a profound way that without much thought, I regularly pass on the wisdom and insight that she imparted to me.  The note I wrote to a friend recently is a perfect example of something significant I learned during my time in counseling:

I write about all this today because my former counselor recently published a devotional book and this week I received a personalized copy in the mail.  As I read the inscription Laura wrote inside the cover, I cried.  When I read the Preface, I cried.  As I read the Introduction, I cried.  I can nearly hear her warm and sure voice speaking the words I've read.  It's not just the words she's's the power of the Truth behind  the words. It is the same Truth that she poured into me years ago. Only now, it's in written form.  So the more I read, the more I cried.  It's Laura's heart poured out on paper reminding me of that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  What an unbelievably incredible Gift.

There will never be enough, adequate words for me to thank you Laura....from the absolute bottom of my heart...seriously.  

Lastly, I want to say this. There should be no shame in getting a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, whoever you need, to help you.  I often say that before counseling I was holding a connect the dot picture of my life but with no numbers. It was just a piece of paper with a bunch of confusing dots that I couldn't connect.  Counseling helped me put numbers next to the dots so I could make connections until a picture emerged. It wasn't until then that I could finally make sense out of some things.

Ask for help and it will be given to you, Seek the help you need and you will find it., Knock on a door for help and it will be answered.  If your really lucky there might be a sweet Golden Retriever named Buddy at the door waiting.  : )

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