Individual Counseling

Counseling for Life Stress: Taking Detours

When I counsel people in my Grand Rapids office, they often make progress for a time, then have a day or two when things don’t go as planned. Life stress gets in the way temporarily. For some, they view these momentary setbacks as some kind of failure, or proof that they “always” screw things up. We all have habits we tend to fall back into temporarily when we are trying to make changes. Sometimes it’s not a habit we fall into but some external event that gets in our way, such as someone leaving their job and we get stuck with their extra work while we still have our own job to do. It could be a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend at a time when we were trying to improve some other area of our lives.

How to Navigate Life Stress

I had a counseling client today provide a different way to view this life stress or roadblocks. She views them as having to take a detour. Sometimes things happen that we can’t avoid, and it will require us to “go around” these roadblocks, which feels like we are off the right path for a short time. Maybe we even get off into the boondocks as we try to find our way back onto the right road.

Perhaps we should view these setbacks the way my client does, as a temporary detour that will be frustrating, but we can get back on the right road if we are patient, persevere, and trust ourselves. Then we find our way back on the right track and continue on our way to our goal. And sometimes the detour opens us up to new possibilities we didn’t even know existed. Sometimes we realize the detour is the preferred route and we will change our route. Dealing with life stress is part of the process. If we can change our attitude about these events, we limit the control they have over our happiness.

Gary Watson is a Solution Focused Therapist in Grand Rapids Michigan.  He provides counseling for couples, counseling for teenagers, and adults.  He provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, college and work stress, and relationship problems.  For more information, please visit the website at