February 17, 2007


A metaphor for realizing our human potential

Q: How many Licensed Professional Counselors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but the light bulb has to "want" to be changed.

The counseling process works best when a client wants "to change" self-defeating attitudes and behaviors. This means the client consents to go on a journey of self-exploration and increased self-understanding, both of which can lead to an improved ability to function on different psychodynamic levels. The results can be beneficial, but not without risk. There is a certain degree of risk involved to move past our comfort zones of dysfunctional thinking and behaviors. When people change, we replace old routines with new ones, and this can increase our anxiety level. This is risky, but a competent Counselor can help the client calculate the risk to help facilitate the client's desired outcome(s) in counseling.

It takes time to realize self-improvement, and so it can be said that counseling is a dynamic process as opposed to a static event. Multiple factors contribute to achieving our personal counseling goals because the human condition is complex and not simple. There are no quick fixes, magic wands, snake oils, potions or pills that can take the place of good old fashion insight plus hard work and time to figure out the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The growth of the Chinese bamboo tree is like the mental, emotional and behavioral growth of a client who is receiving counseling. Both take time and constant nurturing to grow.

When we plant a Chinese bamboo seed, we can expect to wait about five years before seeing any resemblance of a plant breaking through the ground. During that five year time span, it is crucial to water and fertilize the seed on a regular basis, despite the frustration of not seeing anything happen. Then all of a sudden, after about five years, the seed gets it and breaks through the ground to grow 90 feet tall in a matter of six weeks! Counseling goals may not take as long as five years to achieve, but they do require a certain amount of time and the constant watering and fertilizing (nurturing) along the way.

To "nurture" means to nourish ourselves. We all have different ways by which we nourish ourselves. Self nourishment could mean learning a new skill, meeting new friends, modifying our diet, beginning a doctor recommended regular exercise program, spending more time with our family, developing a hobby, learning how to use positive self-talk, teaching ourselves how to relax in a world that moves ever so fast, learning how to go after our hopes and dreams and desires, developing a positive work ethic, and whatever else we can think. These are some of the "fertilizers" that nourish us and help us to grow and improve as human beings.

If the goal is to improve our self-esteem, nurturing ourselves may take on the appearance of learning a new skill, using positive self-talk and surrounding ourselves with positive people. If our goal is to improve the relationship we have with our spouse, nurturing ourselves might look like spending more time with our spouse, learning conflict management skills and being more assertive rather than passive or aggressive.

Some of us know how to "nurture" ourselves, others need the objectivity of a Licensed Professional Counselor to facilitate the watering and fertilizing process. (No pun intended when the "Stoolman" uses the term, "fertilizer".)

Remember the destiny of the Chinese bamboo tree the next time we are feeling frustrated with ourselves because it seems to be taking so long to realize our goals. Remember that one day we will grow and blossom like the Chinese bamboo tree if we continue to nurture ourselves while waiting for the desired results to happen.

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor

Thanks for supporting Stooltime Counseling, Linda!


In my opinion, the next best thing to a "high-five" is a "thumbs-up". Meet the Bronze Fonz, a public artwork by American artist, Gerald P. Sawyer, located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk in downtown Milwaukee, WI. The Bronze Fonz depicts Henry Winkler as the Happy Days TV show character, Arthur Fonzarelli. In this picture, the Fonz is giving a two-handed thumbs-up. Thanks for supporting Stooltime Counseling, Bronze Fonz! I appreciate the positive attitude!

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