Take the Plunge: Go to Counselling


When reader Penny McMahan offered to write a post on going to counselling/therapy, I jumped at it. So many people are hesitatant to get professional help, but that help can be life-changing. Take it away Penny, and thank you!

Since I was a little girl, I had envisioned my life. It was a beautiful dream — but, a dream it was. Life has never really been as I expected from childhood, but it’s somehow been manageable with the help from the Lord. I am a Christian who prays regularly, but like many women, has a hard time waiting upon the Lord!

I wanted all my children living close by as adults, and I always dreamt of being a full- time grandmother. I didn’t ever imagine a child would move away. What an eye-opening experience that has been. My marriage was falling apart and my daughter, my first born, was about to graduate high-school. Much to my surprise, she was ready to leave the nest — and not just go across town with a roommate or a college dorm — she was going “back home” to her birth state where we lived until she was almost 15.  That blew my dream to pieces. Our move to Texas when she was 14 proved to be much harder than I had expected. She couldn’t wait to get back to Oklahoma — home to her.

My son, who left the nest, but returned a few times, has lived in Texas since he was nine. He loves his ties to Oklahoma and is even loyal to his OU football team, but his home is Texas. What?! They don’t even consider the same state to be home?

My little girl dream was shattered….Yes, in the past it was chipped, broken, hazy, and even forgotten about many times, but nothing caused it to fade like this. Not even divorce or other hardships in life made a dent in my dream compared to one of my little birdies leaving the state.

This is when I sought counseling. I needed help!

When I first began counseling, I was very uneasy about telling my life story and problems to a stranger but, I knew life should and could be better. Plus many others had told me they had great experiences with counseling. I knew it was something I definitely needed to do.

I thought about how embarrassing it might be but, then I realized I have already told so much about myself to doctors and health professionals for years. One delivered my babies, one prescribed medication for panic attacks, one does my colonoscopies, one talked to me about peri- menopause and the sexual, emotional, and physical side effects. Thinking about that, I wondered, why would we think twice about seeing someone well- trained and educated to deal with relationship issues, family problems, or making the most of our marriage?

And the answer was, we shouldn’t!  So, I went, and guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. They are professionals, so they know how to do this. All you have to do is show up. They will let you work at your own pace, you can talk or not talk, give input or just sit and listen. There are no rules on how you open up. If you know it’s OK (and it is) to go and just sit totally quiet for the whole 50 minutes, then you have discovered just how easy it is to go.

I want to encourage every woman and every couple to go to at least three or four sessions and see if you gain some strength in any or maybe every area of your life. I promise you will gain something good from it! I may take some time off from counseling, but I always return with a new challenge at some point and am thankful for it as it gives me hope, and the counselors do have answers.

My first husband and I actually ended up divorced. I look back now and think why did we not seek counsel? I am remarried, and my present husband is willing to go to counseling with me any time I ask. Let me say that when a man decides he will go even if he thinks it’s stupid, embarrassing, or completely not needed, it gives you a great sense of being.

Keep in mind you will not always find a perfect client-counselor partnership on your first try, so don’t hesitate to change and try someone different if you feel they aren’t giving you tools that work for you. And never go to someone who just listens. Always, go to someone who will give you tools, challenges, and resources to use outside of counseling. A good friend can listen, but a counselor knows how to teach, guide, and challenge you to be your very best

Believe it or not, we aren’t the best judge of how to do life right! We need help from our spiritual leaders, accountability from family and friends, and medical professionals and counselors to help us be our very best. Just like birthing classes or parenting classes, job training, or learning in any other aspect of life, it’s best to reach out to those who know more than we do and to not keep taking shots in the dark.


Penny McMahan is a former soccer (really basketball and ballet) mom living in Austin,Texas, trying to find her way and purpose, one day and one challenge at a time.

She works part- time, and volunteers at her local police department and church. She likes reading, baking, walking, outings with her girlfriends, Bible study, and cuddling with her two very witty and full- of- personality dogs, and last but, certainly not least, bonding with her grandson in real time and bonding with her out-of-town grandchildren via video chat and free two-day shipping 🙂

The photos above was taken during her candy-making class, one of many ventures she has enjoyed as she “learns to do things just for me.”


8 thoughts on “Take the Plunge: Go to Counselling”

  1. Different life events make us realize that yes, we need a POV outside ourselves to help figure out what’s going on!


    1. That is so true! Most of the time we don’t even know what we are really feeling or what a spouse/family member is truly saying. Therapists/counselors can help get everyone on the same page.


  2. This is a very inspiring, true, heart-warming post. Thank you so much for sharing these very personal thoughts with all of us. Yes, we “think” we can do it on our own – me included. But, you know what? Just like you, I found many decades ago, that this wasn’t the case. Now, with the recent death of my husband, I am thrown back into the quandry of “do I need to seek help and guidance?” or can I do it alone. I’d prefer to “do it alone.” But, I don’t know if that would be the wisest path. Thank you for your sincere and genuine post that may help so many others. I would say, if you seem to be not knowing if things are going in the right direction – “seek help” Best wishes, and congratulations on “life re-directed in a good way”!


      1. Thank you, Barbara, for your kindness and condolences. I wrote to you right after I posted this, but you saw the post before I got my email out to you. When I read this post by Penny McMahan, I could resonate with it. I didn’t get any counseling during my husband’s long period with cancer, and I probably should have, as it was very devastating to experience. And, now, I’m “on my own,” so to speak. So, I will have to figure out whether any help will be needed to make adjustments and regain balance after a spouse of nearly 40 years has passed away.


  3. Hi Phyllis, I am very sorry to hear you lost your husband. I am sure you are suffering from such a great loss and my heart breaks for you. For me, many times I feel like “going it alone” during hard things. I don’t know why but, I do therefore I understand how you feel. Maybe I want to go it alone because starting the process of counseling in a new area is a little exhausting mentally. But, I will say in the end I always come out better and it’s worth it. I have been going to counseling for so many years now that what has helped me when I am undecided is to take some time to deal with whatever
    it is alone, think through it and even write down my goals/plans to weather that particular storm. Counseling being on the list. I eventually go to counseling, sometimes sooner than I thought I would and sometimes later but, I always go, even if only for a few sessions. When it’s something that is very overwhelming to me, I literally sometimes just go in and say I don’t know where to start and I am not even sure I want to talk about it. I often times will start with something easier or just completely different and let the bigger issue find it’s way out on it’s own. Sometimes that’s the first session!
    and sometimes several down the road! I never leave a session feeling like I shouldn’t have gone and I always gain something. That has been my experience. I hope you will share yours with us if/when you feel like it and let us know what you found to help you cope in the now and eventually thrive in your future, your new normal. Blessings, Penny


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