Friday, February 05, 2010

Of hammers, nails, and the practice of counseling

"If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

This week I began my private counseling practice. I should say I began the business side of it. The counseling side has been going on for a while.

A few weeks ago, after months of feeling immobilized by a Catch-22 situation — no office to see clients, but no clients to support the expense of an office, but no office to send them to, and so on, ad infinitum — an opportunity to sublet office space fell in my lap.

I should say, God dropped it in my lap, because that's exactly what happened.

So this week I opened a business account at the bank, placed an order for business cards and stationery, and started working on a web site.

Now that the idea of a practice is becoming a reality, this post from Christian psychologist Phil Monroe is an especially well-timed reminder for me. He talks about seeking a consultation with professionals outside his area of expertise, and how that experience reminded him of the maxim at the top of this post.

Even if you're not working in the counseling field, Monroe's observation applies — we tend to see things from the perspective of our own skillset. It's a humbling thing to admit we may not have the right solution.

Like the department store employees in Miracle on 34th Street, we fear if we tell people someone else has what they need, they'll leave and never return.

But sometimes, what a person (customer, client, friend) needs most is something outside our own area of expertise. In those cases, we serve them best by sending them elsewhere. In so doing, we demonstrate that our love for them is greater than our love for ourselves, our pride, our wallet.

And if it works the way it did in Miracle on 34th Street, their dedication to us actually increases, because we have shown true dedication to them. Ironic.

But it's especially ironic, considering Maslow's own commitment to humanism. Speaking of systems that don't have all the answers.

~~~~~

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this insight, Pam. It's good to be reminded of what trips us all up: pride. I was just reading about that in "Mere Christianity," and here I come to your blog and it's another musing on that topic. It's so hard to see outside myself sometimes that I'm thankful for these not-so-subtle reminders from others. :)

    I love you, and I'm still praying for your efforts at launching the private practice. :)

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