What is support?

I am moving slowly through this list of best practices from the perspective of the therapist.  I’m trying to add in my perspective as a client.  Hopefully, it comes off as helpful and not confusing.  I know that with the hundreds of conversations I had with my counselor there were several times that he understood that what he was trying to say didn’t not come across to me they way he intended.  He checked in with me often as to my understanding what I thought he said.  This works for any communication relationship, especially within family where people seem to assume that what they said was understood in the way they intended.


Encourage establishment/strengthening of support networks

Likely impairment of relational capacity may mean that supports are lacking or non- optimal. The therapeutic relationship itself fosters relational capacity as healthy support networks are worked towards.

What my counselor didn’t take into account was I had no idea what support looked like or more specifically what it felt like.  An example of this disconnect is best illustrated by trying to tell someone that has never tasted salt what it tastes like.  Yea it taste salty.  When I was asked about my support system I was puzzled.  What did he mean, what did that look like, and how should I respond to something if I don’t know what it is?  He tried again, “Who do you depend on for help?”  My answer, “No one, why should I?”  My position in the family was care taker.  I remember when I was 5 years old being instructed to take care of my mother.  In fact, most of my life I was taking care of someone else the concept that someone should support me was missing.  I was also cautious.  If I did get help from someone, I knew there would be price to pay.

The way my counselor taught me what support was he was supportive to me.  He pointed out how he encouraged and helped me in a healthy way.  The only thing I knew and understood were unhealthy co-dependency and parasite behavior.  I did not understand for quite a while.  After counseling my sister introduced me to FrogLogic and team building.


This made sense to me.  Having people that we each work independently as much as possible but pull together when stuff is tough.  One example that I remember was being at the beach with my family.  My brothers and I wandered farther and farther out not understanding the treachery of changing tides.  My parents were half as far as we were and the life guard was half the distance of my parents.  The life guard hollered for us to come in.  When we reached my parents, we were instructed to lock arms.  Good thing we did.  I was the smallest, by the time we got to shore I was totally exhausted.  I would not have made the trip back in without their support.  My sister and I learned to support each other.  I learned how my husband was supportive to me.  His way of doing things were different than what I was used to so I didn’t recognize the support he gave me.  I needed to learn to be supportive in a healthy way.  Doing for someone else is not supportive.  I needed to stand by their side and let them struggle and not jump in too soon.  Even when they ask me to help, I show but then let them do it themselves.  Or I can walk them through it by sharing suggestions.  Care taker role I was taught to do was unhealthy.  Standing back and letting them struggle some is supportive.  My counselor did not give me answers he asked me to do homework, read a book or article, watch a movie, try an experiment and he was there for me to talk over my own conclusions but he didn’t do it for me.  By the way, this whole being supportive can be really tough to do.  Now I work with teachers and we are supportive of our students.  I am still working on what this looks like.  I still struggle with jumping in too soon.  (Rescuer high is hard to over come, but that is another post.) I am learning what being on a team feels like, it feels good.  The sneaky thing my counselor didn’t tell me was that as I worked in a team environment that is supportive and nurturing confidence and trust start to grow.  It is very cool.


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