A counseling tune-up may be just what you need to help you start the year right

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Melissa Grove

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

For some of its clients, Legacy Counseling Center has become a home base. And Legacy’s Executive Director Melissa Grove said this is a time of year when she sees a number of clients come back for what she calls a little tune-up. It’s a great way to start a new year with the right frame of mind, she said.

When people are first diagnosed with HIV, many make Legacy their first stop. Dallas County’s health department refers every person it diagnoses to the agency, just to make sure they start off on the right track.

“We help a lot of people just get over the shock of being told they’re positive,” Grove said, adding that counseling can help set the right frame of mind to start the medications and begin to live a healthy life with HIV.

Another first step is for those newly diagnosed to learn how to talk to other people about being HIV-positive, who to tell and when to tell them.

Grove said many Legacy clients come in for just one or maybe a few sessions to get their lives headed back on the right path.

“But then life happens,” she said. “A loss. A job lost. Different things can bring you back to therapy to get you back on track.”

She said Legacy is a safe and supportive place to go. It is certainly isn’t the only choice people in the community have when looking for a therapist she acknowledged.

But she urged those looking elsewhere for counseling to start by getting a referral and then interview the therapist before making any commitment. Make sure that person understands HIV and is sensitive to LGBT issues.

Grove said she takes time every December to evaluate her life, figure out what’s working for her and what’s not and makes plans for the coming year.

“I love resolutions,” she said, but added that resolutions don’t work for most people because they’re negative.

Maybe you’re addicted to Grindr, or you need to lose weight, get more exercise, spend less, drink less — those are all negative things and are the resolutions that are usually broken.

“Therapy can help you work through things that are not productive in your life,” she said.

Grove said addiction to Grindr has become a common issue and suggests the real issue may be that you’ve never had love and don’t know how to find it. Just putting the phone down won’t address the underlying problem.

“Many gay men I’ve worked with are dealing with shame,” she said. “Even if you’re out, you haven’t necessarily worked through all your stuff.”

Counseling, she said, is one of the many tools to use to address what’s not working in your life.

But she also suggested a better way to think about making New Year’s resolutions: Instead of those punitive resolutions like eating fewer snacks to lose weight or saving some money by not shopping so much, set positive goals and make positive resolutions.

Make a list of books to read, places to visit, people you want to see or things you want to do.

Getting out and doing more things you want to do may be just the remedy for too much drinking. When you’re busy, you might not think about shopping to buy something that makes you feel better for just a short time.

And when you’re out doing things and meeting people, you might meet someone with similar interests rather than hoping that the next hook-up on Grindr will somehow be a match.

But even if the goal is to sit down and read a book you’ve been meaning to tackle, you can proudly check that one off your resolution list and continue the year accomplishing other things you want to do.

Grove said to ask yourself a couple of questions: Are you happy with the path you’re on? Are you getting everything out of life that you could?

If not, she suggests, a little counseling tune-up may be just the answer to help you figure out how to get where you want to be.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 23, 2016.