When the mind, one-pointed and fully focused, knows the supreme silence in the Heart, this is true learning.
Sri Ramana Maharshi

Here are some common questions and concerns that people may have about counseling.  If yours is not on the list, just let me know and I'll answer it.

Who can benefit best from your counseling? 
As the counselor, what part do you play? 
Isn't counseling just a sign that I am too weak to take care of myself? 
If I do start counseling, will I have to tell everything about myself? 
What if I start crying and can't stop?
How long will I need to come?


Who can benefit best from your counseling?
People normally seek out counseling because they are confused and unable to make sense of their lives.  After a major loss, many people experience a feeling of despair that life seems futile. They find that the world as they once knew it, or envisioned how it would be, is no longer valid.   It is as if the world they believed in, trusted in, and assumed existed has been shattered into a thousand pieces, and there seems no way to put it back together.  They begin to ask questions such as "Who am I?" "Where am I going?" "What happened to justice and fairness?" and "Why did this happen to me?" Those who can benefit from counseling are those who have the courage and willingness to address these questions and to engage in an exploration of what can make their life meaningful in light of their loss.  This quest will only be successful for those who are prepared to examine and question their core assumptions about life and about themselves.

In my practice, those who will NOT benefit from counseling are those who are looking to solve a particular problem related to bereavement without being willing to address the other aspects of their existence.  As I explain on the page Grief Reactions, loss, and especially the death of a loved one, affects all aspects of who we are, and each one deserves its own  consideration.  Obviously, this description implies that people need to come to counseling of their own free will.

As the counselor, what part do you play?
My role as a counselor is not to trick, coerce, cajole, or tell you what to do or not to do (unless your action might hurt yourself or someone else).  While I am an expert in end-of-life and bereavement concerns, my intent is not to change you or try to "cure" you of your grief.  Rather, my role is to be a mentor and experienced companion and, in that role, to:

    * explore with you the puzzles and mysteries of your life after your loss,
    * to throw new light on and explore various facets of your experience,
    * to encourage you to think for yourself,
    * to be with you as you face the trials and tribulations of your new life,
    * to ask questions and conduct exercises to guide you to increased personal insight, and
    * to encourage you to face what seems negative and difficult so you can discover the positive implications of it.

I'm not here to make your life easier; I'm here to help you find a new place in your heart for your deceased loved one and to make your life easier to live.

Simultaneously, my role is to ensure that you have a trusting, safe, confidential, non-judgmental, and objective place to freely express whatever you need or want to.  This is where you can discuss and work out those things that you can't talk about and work out anywhere else.

Isn't counseling just a sign that I am too weak to take care of myself?
Throughout life, there are always times when each of us has run into something we need someone else to show us how to manage.  We spend our entire lives learning about our environment, ourselves, and how we interact with that environment.  Courage is the requirement to explore the uncharted waters that reside within us, to face who we are, and to learn to live a rich and full life instead of to exist through life and wonder "Is this all there is?"  Not seeking help when a person needs it is not so much an issue of weakness as it is a lack of courage.  Strength comes not from running from our problems, it comes from facing them and working through them.  It takes strength and courage to seek out counseling, not weakness!

If I do start counseling, will I have to tell everything about myself?
No, you don't have to tell everything or "be put on the hot seat" because the bottom line is that you are always in control of what, how much, and when to share.  In fact, keeping some things private may actually be more helpful, but that's your call.

What if I start crying and can't stop?
This is a common concern of someone who never received counseling before.  In  all my years of experience, I've never seen that happen because during our hour together, we only explore as far as you are comfortable.  I don't force you to go somewhere you don't want to go, and I don't let you leave the office until you can take care of yourself.

How long will I need to come?
It is impossible to put a time frame on how long we will meet.  I am a big believer that the length of time is a false indicator of progress.  Time itself doesn't make anything different or better.  It's what you do with the time that matters.  Thus, we will meet as long as we feel we need to.