Individual Counseling

Mountain Guide Metaphor

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We like to use metaphors to explain psychology and counseling because the process is complicated and often shrouded in mystery for the layperson. By using a metaphor we are all familiar with the shroud is lifted. The metaphor we will use today is that a good counselor is a mountain guide.

A mountain guide cannot physically pull his client up the mountain. He doesn’t do the hard work for him and in fact cannot. His utility lies in having expertise specific to the task of mountaineering that he can share with his client in order to avoid common pitfalls and get to the top safely.

I think this is a very important point because many in the profession of psychology have an egocentric view of themselves where they believe their expertise and interventions are responsible for successful outcomes. However, any growth that occurs, any revelations you have, and any changes in your lifestyle and worldview will come from within you. You are the only person who can change your life.

The mountain we are talking about is your presenting reason to come to therapy. However, this mountain usually expands to include many other facets of your life and all the factors that make up your existential situation. My utility to you is that I have expertise about all the different kinds of terrain we will encounter and can share the tools we will need to succeed.

The goal is to help you motivate all of your energies and abilities both known and latent in order to reach the summit. You will have learned what it takes to get there because you were not a passive observer of the process. You were the one doing the work all along. The next time there is a mountain rising up in front of you will not need a guide. You’ll have all the tools and psychological knowledge necessary to scale it yourself.