Why Counselling Works – Psychotherapy
The Key to Change – Psychotherapy Neuroplasticity
Why Counselling Works
One of the first questions I always receive, particularly from skeptics and those who have never sought any form of mentoring, coaching, or counseling before, ask: “What is it that you do that actually seems to work, and have made such a profound change in my friend’s life?”
You may find the answer to this question surprising. It is not actually anything that I “do,” but it is what I invite my clients to “do and discover” that initiates change! The tools we use as a team are psychological ones, which create physical changes in your brain!
Most of the clients in my counselling therapy Toronto practice come to me as a result of referrals. People with whom I have worked and who have experienced positive and or profound changes in their lives frequently honour our work together by sharing their newfound knowledge and ways of being with friends and family.
There is a popular saying in the sciences of neurology and psychology; “The neurons that fire together wired together… And the neurons that fire apart wire apart.” This saying stems out of some fairly recent research in which we have learned that the human brain can actually rewire itself, changing old behaviors, old habits, and old beliefs, to new behaviors habits and beliefs. This ability is called neuroplasticity. For many years it was thought that the human brain was molded in our childhood and remained rather static once we became an adult. Alas the old and false phrase, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks!” But it turns out that Rover is more trainable than we thought!
Imagine that you lived in the country surrounded by hundreds of acres of wheat that stretched high into the blue sky a good 10 feet and more! Your best friend lived in a neighbouring farmhouse over a mile away on the other side of the wheat field. Each day for years you would walk your dog through the field on the same path you to have your morning coffee with your best friend. Years of repetitive walking throughwhy counselling works the same trail had laid down a very clear path through the otherwise obscuring wheat. You would have quickly reached the point where you had to give no thought whatsoever as to how to find your friend’s house, and you would naturally and intuitively follow the path that you had laid down over the years. On one morning walk your faithful dog veered off the trail following his nose to an unknown destination. You leave the trail in hot pursuit following the few strands of broken wheat only to catch up to your loyal canine buddy who continues to lead you through the wheat field and down the hill exiting out the front door of your friend’s house.
In the days that follow Rover continues to lead you down this new path that is becoming more self-evident with every use. Within a few weeks you no longer need Rover’s guidance as you can clearly find your way on your own, and after a few months you have totally neglected your old trail in favor of the new and more enjoyable path. In fact, by this time, the old trail has grown in with new stands of wheat and any attempt to follow the old path would prove pretty difficult.
The neurons in your brain are much like the wheat in the field. Over the years you have laid down neuron paths that connect things that you see hear and do, with an associated feeling and possible judgment. In less than a millisecond you’re brain travels these neural pathways. We now know these connections are no longer permanent. Through the consistent application of new approaches and ways of being in your world you can lay down new pathways which connect the things you see here and do, with the new associated feelings and judgments which serve you and your life goals in a much more positive and productive manner.
By utilizing various tools and therapeutic approaches my clients are able to create these new pathways and lay them down as new and permanent ways of being. In our sessions clients learn how to create these new pathways with some very simple tools. Multiple approaches are used including cognitive therapy and others. Some issues may require more work then others as depression-hurts, change can be uncomfortable and issues like agoraphobia treatment are complex. Research confirms what my clients already know, Why Conselling Worksprofound change can happen within a week and lasting change can be created in as little as 1 to 4 months if they consistently apply themselves to walking on these new paths.
The now scientifically excepted concept of neuroplasticity has only come about in the 1980’s and 90’s. It is always comforting when science confirms what humans have always known – you can always ‘change your mind!’
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