Counseling Keys

How counseling and its mental health focus aids in faster healing, recovery, adaptation, and overall satisfaction in career, family, and other relationships in one’s life.

Finding the Answer Within

How to find the internal guidance when no one else is around.

If human beings were more like golden retrievers, the field of psychology may not be around. Take a look at the definition of psychology, “the science or study of the mind and behavior.” Science loosely means, “to know.” Can we truly know the mind? Can we understand others? How about ourselves?


My golden retriever is so much easier to understand. She’s simple. Loyal. Loving. Her behavior is more rational and seems to make sense. Humans, on the other hand, are complex. Some of them confuse me. Many of them actually. Humans behave in such contradictory and illogical ways that not only does the field of psychology exist, it has given birth to multitudes of theories about it.


Philosopher Renee Descartes stated, “I think, therefore I am.” He defined proof of existence because he could recognize that he had the ability to contemplate and think about his existence. Of course this subjective observation was debated by other great thinkers—and over time, debates extended from existence into the construction of the content of our thoughts.


Thinking. Is that that what differentiates my golden from me? Some postulate human behavior is distinctly separate from the animal kingdom because of our ability to think. Furthermore, they assert mental health can be facilitated by thinking healthy thoughts and removing catastrophic thinking and irrational fears.


Simple, huh? Not really. Because there is an ever-burgeoning preponderance of empirical evidence that reveals emotional health creates mental health. Developmental experts suggest mental health is fostered by successfully passing through key developmental stages over our lifespan. And neuroscientists are now pointing out that behavior can be summed up by the nerve impulses throughout our body.


When I start getting deep into the science, my golden retriever and I don’t look that much different. Then I remember she is a lot less confusing to me and I double back to the array of knowledge we have learned about human behavior—and the glaring thing most scientific studies miss when examining humans. The Spirit. The Soul. The Ethereal. (By the way, this is where I personally feel my golden and I are most alike.)


The bottom line for you, the reader, is to be informed that an expert or theory does not exist that can solve all of your problems. Ultimately, the truth resides deep within you. It has been steering you all along. So, if an expert or theory completely feels off base, look again and look elsewhere. We are all growing and learning together. What works for one person does not always work for another person. If you’re struggling with a decision, get quiet and listen to your heart. You may not need the external validation that an expert gives you. Ultimately, a good therapist helps you get in touch with that inner source of wisdom within you. And, if that still doesn’t work, maybe you can get a golden retriever and let them help you in their non-judgmental, non-interrupting, and totally loving manner.


Kimberly Key is past division president of the American Counseling Association and author of Ten Keys to Staying Empowered in a Power Struggle.


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