One of the most important functions of counseling is to help people make meaning out of their past and present lives.
Sometimes people come to counseling in a state of existential crisis; something has happened to them (a diagnosis, a relationship breakup) that has made them question their long-held views of themselves and the world. They don’t know what to think anymore. They may be feeling completely at sea. They need someone to help them figure out what they believe now, who they will be now, and how they can move forward from this point on.
Sometimes people start counseling because they feel desperately unhappy. Possibly they have been blaming, shaming and/or negating themselves for years due to habits of mind formed in childhood and through no fault of their own. These people often need help re-thinking their histories in a way that allows them to be more self-accepting and self-confident.
Sometimes people seek counseling because they are blocked in their lives. They know what they want to do, but something is stopping them from going for the gusto. They can’t move forward because they need to alter the way they see themselves–not as a victim, but as a survivor, not as incompetent, but as a person with a disability, not as a failure, but as a person who has devoted himself for years to the well-being of others and now needs to turn his attention toward himself.
In all of these cases, collaborative meaning-making undertaken by client and therapist in concert is frequently the change factor that leads to clarity, relief, freedom and flourishing.