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Suffering. It’s the reason most people come to counseling. It comes in varying intensity, duration, and complication.


What’s your brand of suffering? Is it…

  • Anxiety that’s no longer manageable?
  • Sadness that’s stuck around too long?
  • Grief that’s shaken you to your core?
  • A relationship in distress?
  • A trauma that haunts you?
  • Burnout?
  • Physical pain that disheartens you?
  • A loss of faith or hope?
  • The experience of systemic oppression?
  • Something else?


Human suffering is diverse and multifaceted.  It can be emotional, spiritual, physical, cognitive, societal, or relational. Suffering is also a universal part of what makes us human.


Suffering is an internal alarm that something is not right. It’s the toothache that reminds you to see the dentist if you’ve been skipping your check-ups. It’s the “check engine” light that urges you to see your auto mechanic if you’ve skipped the routine tune ups.


In the world of mental health counseling, people rarely (if ever) come in for mental health “check ups” when things are otherwise “fine” in life. Much more frequently, they develop a backlog of suffering that builds until their emotions are loud enough to get their attention. The volume of their emotional suffering is what prompts people to seek help.


Suffering is a primary source of motivation for people. It’s the thing that breaks down barriers, allowing a person to finally allow in help.


Not only does suffering motivate people to reach out for help initially, but it also spurs on the entire change process in therapy. It creates a sense of urgency and readiness for change. It will be what prompts you to follow up on the homework your therapist assigns. It will be what reminds you that the hard work you’ll do toward change is worth it.


Let’s be real: The goal of counseling is not to eliminate suffering altogether. That would be impossible. Instead, counselors equip clients to manage their own daily struggles and pain effectively, using the resources learned in sessions.


In counseling, you can develop healthy strategies for coping with suffering which do not involve denying or avoiding it. You might even find a strength in the midst of your suffering like perseverance, drive, character, or hope.


If you are experiencing a brand of suffering that’s leading you to ask for help, a counselor with Star Meadow Counseling is available to help. Call us (360-952-3070) or schedule an appointment online.