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Like many children, I was fascinated with questions. Any parents reading, I imagine you have found yourself frustrated by the infamous question of “why” that your child may ask when he or she doesn’t get their way. I also imagine that you find yourself entertained by the questions your child asks. I was recently asked if a hot dog was considered a sandwich (If you’re wondering, it’s still up for debate.). My fascination with questions did not stop in childhood but persisted throughout adolescence and into adulthood. As a counselor with a leaning toward cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), I often find myself using Socratic questioning as a therapeutic technique. While there are many techniques employed within the framework of the cognitive model, Beck found that Socratic questioning was central to understanding assumptions and/or generalizations we tend to make about ourselves and others. Simply put, questions help us make sense of things; they point us in a particular direction. Therefore, it is imperative that we begin asking the right questions.
Before I became a counselor, I was a student youth pastor, and one of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks for me was preparing for a sermon. In preparation to write a sermon, I would ask myself, what does the congregation need to hear today? A trusted spiritual mentor once asked me, what do you need to hear today? What are the deepest yearnings of your own heart? That is when it dawned on me, it starts within you. To bring about any “good news” to anyone sitting in the pews on Sunday, it was necessary for me to be curious about my own needs and inquire about the condition of my own heart. We have a personal responsibility to “check-in” with ourselves. To be clear, responsibility is not blame. It does not mean that you have done something wrong, nor does it mean something is wrong with you. It means you can respond in the present moment. You have a choice to pause and take a moment to check-in with yourself. Here are a few tips and questions to guide you:
– What emotion(s) do I feel?
– What thoughts and/or beliefs do I have related to this/these emotion(s)?
– What sensations do I notice in my body?
Remember, you are not wrong and cannot be wrong here. You are checking-in with yourself. What do you need to hear today? What are the deepest yearnings of your heart?