By James Barbour, MS, LPCS, LCAS, CCS, CHt | Director of Aspire Counseling and Coaching, PLLC

It’s not uncommon for people to seek the help of a licensed professional counselor or a certified coach when they want to overcome a personal or professional life hurdle. Sometimes an obstacle feels like a large and inconvenient pothole in the road to be carefully navigated, and sometimes it feels like an impossible chasm to be crossed between two sides of a canyon, with no idea of how to bridge the gap. In either case, it can be helpful to speak with someone who is unbiased, understanding and trained to help you navigate the passage. 

Initially one of the challenges faced is simply wanting someone to tell you what to do. I’ll admit, some-times it can be tempting to say to a client, “Stop drinking”, “Start the project”, or “Don’t do that thing you keep doing that is causing you problems”. However, an exceptional counselor and performance coach knows to give advice sparingly, if at all. This is because in many instances, you are armed already with some good options for improving your unique life situation. 

For example, if you have a desire to lose weight or improve your physical fitness, I’m certain you can give me several options that, if acted upon immediately, would move you closer to your desired weight or fitness goals: “Stop eating fast food”, “Start exercising and working out”, “Drink more water”, or “Walk 10,000 steps a day”. You already know some actions you can take. So, where is the breakdown? Where is the gap between knowing what to do, and taking goal-oriented action? As with any personal or profes-sional challenge that can be likened to winning  your “game”, if you do not commit to action in moving your proverbial ball towards the goal line, you will never “score”, so to speak.

One of the primary functions of an effective counselor and performance coach is to empower clients to span these types of gaps in their personal or professional developments. In a therapeutic relationship between client and counselor, it is understood that the client is the expert in his or her own life, and the counselor is the clinician charged with its modification. Trusting that the client is resourced with op-tions to help move him or her in the direction of the goal, the multi-faceted role of the counselor—and the methodology of empowerment I employ at Aspire Counseling And Coaching—is as follows:

  1. Understanding individual circumstances and desires for change

2) Clarifying visions, purposes and goals

3) Identifying obstacles to goal achievement (ie self-sabotage, competing beliefs, lack of clarity)

4) Supporting development of strategic plans of action

5) Directing focus to maintain accountability

6) Providing education that supports goal achievement

7) Eliciting inspiration and motivation

8) Giving encouragement and emotional support

9) Trusting in evidence-based models such as: Cognitive Behavioral Therapies, Re-decision Therapy, Solu-tion-Focused Brief Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

10) Sharing appropriate therapeutic resources

As a therapist and empowerment coach, I continually study best counseling practices and participate in clinical training. I diligently practice and model self-care, and steadily achieve goals and milestones in my own life. I have a personal coach, a mentor and a team of professionals with whom I consult routine-ly. My core specialization is in the treatment of problematic anxieties and stressors such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, performance anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias. Other areas of specialization include addiction, life transition, chronic pain, relationships, and sleep. I offer confidential professional counseling and performance coaching sessions for individuals, couples and groups. And to further add value to our community, I lead workshops and training sessions for or-ganizations and businesses.

As a psychotherapist and certified coach, I’m privileged to have met some extraordinary people throughout the course of my life, and I have yet to meet anyone who has survived and thrived without their share of challenges and failures. Successful people consistently practice bridging the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

If you are ready to “move closer to the goal line” in a specific area of your life, I encourage you to take action today. Call (252) 414-0534 for a free phone consultation, to schedule an appointment or to in-quire about an upcoming workshop. You can also visit me on my website at www.JamesABarbour.com.

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