Grace, Truth, Time

Personal change is hard work. The hard work is worth the effort because in the end you have something that lasts. One of our influences for how we practice therapy is the psychologist team of Henry Cloud, Phd and John Townsend, PhD. They have a wonderful website filled with many resources for change and growth.  Many of our clients at Linville Services have read or watched their material and then come to counseling here to apply what they are learning to their specific situation.

In the book, Changes That Heal, Dr. Cloud writes about the ingredients necessary for change.  They are Grace, Truth and Time. Here is where you can see or order the book: 

I often make this “speech” in my office when someone says that “time heals all wounds”. Time is a part of the formula, but time alone will not do it. People need Grace and Truth from other people and from God (and especially from their counselor). Grace is being accepted right where you are in whatever circumstances you are facing. When a client is given Grace they have a safe place to tell their story instead of hiding it or putting on a mask and pretending that everything is okay. Grace does not shame or judge. Grace says it is okay to be imperfect and to be real.

Truth is necessary for change and by this I mean the client is honest about what they are facing and honest about what they are doing that works and what they are doing that halts the desired change. The therapist speaks truth about what he or she sees that may contribute to the problem and truth about ideas to try and feedback on how the growth process is going.

Time is necessary because you must practice new behaviors and grieve losses and try and fail and learn and try again. An analogy to illustrate this is a garden.  I prepare the soil by removing weeds and breaking up the soil. I plant seeds. I cover them up and water them. Then it takes a while before I see the seedling poke its head through the soil. Growth is occurring but it is not always visible. By the same token, just because there is a green seedling does not mean I can cut flowers for a bouquet the next day.  Being impatient about growth can cause frustration, but if people can see that they are in the process and to stay the course they will see flowers eventually (with enough light and warmth and water).  The Bible says it this way: Galatians 6:9

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)
The combination of all 3 ingredients are necessary because if you have only Truth it can sound like judgement and condemnation.  If you have only Grace the growth seeker feels accepted right where they are with no need to change (for example giving Grace with no truth for a rage problem or a drug problem that is wreaking havoc in the client’s life and in the life of people the client is in relationship with). So if there is only Grace there is no accountability to stop destructive behaviors to the self or others and no motivation to do the hard work of change.
The three ingredients for change work well in the counseling office and they work well in relationships. I hope you will give this a try with the people you love.
Joy and Peace to you,     April Linville, MSW, LCSW