Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Counseling Is Like Cooking

Who else is obsessed with allrecipes.com? 


If that doesn't make you hungry...then you're probably a vegetarian. (And if you are...I'm sorry. Look away.) Meatball Nirvana is a staple at my house. If we're having guests over, if we're watching The Godfather, if it's at-home date night...it's one of our favorites. 

One of the reasons it's our favorite is because we took a great recipe and we made it our own. Check out the link above, and you'll note it's written one way. The Adams family recipe has a few things changed:

Instead of sea salt, we use coarse ground kosher salt. It's flavorful without being overwhelming. Neither myself or Tim like the taste of cooked onion pieces, so we use onion powder. Because we already have large salt crystals, we use garlic powder instead of garlic salt. We use 1 or 2 % milk instead of skim. And we use Italian bread crumbs, not simply 'seasoned.' 

If you look at the original recipe, that could add up to some major changes. So when I tell you "try this recipe, it's my favorite!" it's really not exactly my favorite at all. It's where my favorite meal started.

I'm not the only one who does that. If you read the nearly 2000 reviews for Meatball Nirvana, you'll see that nearly all put their own "spin" on it. CookingBug serves it on hoagie rolls. (What?) Jillian skips the milk and puts egg in instead. ItalianTapas does a half-beef half-pork combo and subs some ricotta for the milk. 

How does this story matter to the new therapist? 



  • Like cooking, counseling is an ART not a science. The personality of the cook and the counselor matter to the finished result.
  • Just like a minor ingredient can make a big difference in taste, as a counselor, you may never know what small thing you said that helped your client move to another level. 
  • You're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Hoagie rolls? Really? That's sacrilege to me. But it works for CookingBug, and more power to them.
  • According to Jillian, you have to break a few eggs to get a positive result. So do you have to fumble, and say dumb things once in a while, to become the counselor you're meant to be. 
  • Nothing gets cooked - and nothing changes - until HEAT is applied! You as the counselor, and your client, will grow as you make mistakes and face pressure to change.

It's normal to be nervous starting out. You have your preconceptions about how counseling is supposed to be. But your clients? They're just happy to be "fed." It's you who notices every imperfection along the way. 

Take a lesson from your clients and just sit down and enjoy the meal you're sharing together. 

If you liked this article, you might also like Guess What? Nobody Gets You.


What's YOUR favorite recipe, and what do you do to tweak it? Click here to share with us!