"Natural" Lessons for Continued Growth : The Compass

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"Natural" Lessons for Continued Growth

by Clinicians at Ganey Counseling on 05/01/15

As I’m preparing my seedlings to be transplanted to my outside garden I have been learning much about the process.  One of the most important things I’m learning is that once mature enough the plants must go through a process of hardening if their transfer to the garden is going to be successful. Hardening requires that I slowly leave the growing plants outside for increased increments of time until they’re ready to take on the heat of the sun and the coolness of the night. This process got me thinking once again about what takes place in therapy.


As I wrote last week, often times in therapy it takes time and hard work until we start to see change. We first learn to make these changes with the help of a counselor in the safety of a confidential space; however, if we are to continue to grow we have to make a conscious effort to transfer the things we learn and the ways we grow into everyday life. This process of  “hardening” is usually slow and gradual but very important.


Sometimes the process of taking new skills, habits, and perspectives into relationships outside of therapy is relatively easy and it quickly leads to increased freedom and joy. Sometimes; however, the process is more difficult and takes a bit more time. The key to doing this part of therapy well is to slowly increase the risks you’re willing to take. Just like the plants spend 2 hours in the sun, then four, then six, it is important for you to start small but continue to push  yourself. Perhaps it is easier to start practicing your new habits around your friends first, your co-workers second, and your family last.  Your counselor can help you determine new areas where you need to start putting your growth into practice but remember that this process make take some time, patience, and perseverance.


Healthy change means something different for everyone, but the overall goal is the same. For my plants, my hope is that they become strong enough to continue to grow independently in the garden and produce much fruit. The goal in therapy is similar. We are here to help you plant seeds for change, grow in that change, and then take the things you are learning outside of the therapy office. We will help you transition, step by step, through the discomfort until you are ready to do it on your own. It’s a bit of a journey but the rewards are great.

Tips to Keep Growing:

1)    Talk to your counselor.
 If you are feeling discouraged or scared to practice the new things you are learning it is important for your therapist to know. Being able to share these feelings will help them to subside more easily.

2)    Make a list of the rewards!

Working towards any goal it is important to keep in mind the rewards that will come at the end of all the hard work. Is it healthier relationships? More balanced emotions? Feeling better about yourself or your future?

3)    Embrace discomfort.

Just because something is uncomfortable does not mean that it is not good for you. Accept the discomfort as part of the growth process and trust that it will subside in time.

4)    Be Proud of the hard work.

Look back at all the work you’ve done so far. Try to remember your first day of therapy and things about the ways that you have changed since then. Ask your therapist for their insight, it is likely that they are seeing things that you are not.



Submitted by Sarah E. Loew, MS

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