One of the things I’m known for in my practice is how I help my clients create an action plan to the situations that bring them in. This is one of the tenets of Brief Therapy, the style of therapy I practice in my office. As a brief therapist, not only do I assess the problems which are bringing clients in, but also examine things like exceptions to the problem and times when the problem isn’t as severe. I look for strengths and resources in other parts of the clients’ lives to see if we might be able to draw upon these more successful moments to deal with what is currently happening in their lives. And then from that information a plan is made. The plan is based on the goal of when things are better or the situation is resolved or feeling more manageable, what would we see. We get the goal described in behavioral terms and then set up the plan. Sometimes the plan requires more education and skill building, sometimes it is looking at the situation differently and seeing how that might be helpful, maybe it’s working on patience or coping skills until the situation changes, or it could be a myriad of other solutions that help clients get started towards their goal. The plan is specific to each person and his or her goal. It is co-created between client and therapist. The plan gets implemented and session time is used to understand what is working, what is not and make adjustments accordingly. Clients are asked to look for times when things are better and to take note of those situations because they provide clues about what the client needs to continue doing.
When playing golf, there are many parallels to this process I just described. Think about the times you’ve gone to the range. You take a club out of your bag, say a 7-iron, that’s what I usually start with .. and start hitting balls. You’re just warming up, so there might be some great shots and some not so great shots. At some point you might encounter a problem in your swing or the ball flight that starts the assessment process. “Is it my alignment, swing speed? Is my swing getting too big? Am I coming out of the swing too fast, etc.” Seems like everyone has a check list of sorts that gets run through to try to make corrections. As you hit more balls maybe you see that the adjustments you made are working. So, you keep doing them to help with the confidence and muscle memory. And hopefully, things have worked themselves and you reach your goal.. .hitting your 7 iron, “X” number of yards with the type of ball flight and execution that feels as though you are making more consistent swings.
As the Counseling Caddie I want to point out these parallels of what happens on the course and what happens in your life to show you that most issues and situations that create distress and discomfort in your life can be solved or managed by using ideas that we use on the course. With a little thinking and creativity you can begin to see, as I do, how golf mirrors life. And, by putting something that feels uncomfortable, perhaps overwhelming or scary into a context where you feel comfortable, like on the golf course, you can gain some confidence that at least you have a starting point. A grounding of sorts, which hopefully gets your mind thinking, “Okay .. so if I came across a tough shot on the course, how would I approach it?” In the next blog I will start to lay out the plan that I use and help others use to approach that tough shot in your life. Assessing the situation, understanding what works and doesn’t work, getting more tools in your toolbox, or should I say shots in your golf bag, coming up with a plan and executing it, tweaking it if necessary are all ideas that work on and off the course. I will help you see how using my 3 point plan can help you feel more confident in executing that tough shot or addressing that tough situation in your life.