Stepping Out of The Bubble: Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Counseling Therapy

By: James P. Krehbiel

Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.

Stepping Out of The Bubble: Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Counseling Therapy
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Counseling is an interesting career path. Similar to many social work positions, counselors get to see and experience people who are emotionally distraught and hurting. There are many reasons why people choose to become counselors; they want to help people; they have a natural ability to comfort; they're working out their own problems. Regardless of the reasons, all counselors experience the difficulty of maintaining their own personal wholeness, while attending daily to the problems of others.

Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Counseling Therapy is James P. Krehbiel's memoir of that journey. He reflects on the changes he had to make to become a more effective counselor, and how those changes impacted both himself and his clients. He states that the purpose of his book... to assist the reader in moving toward a more conscious, adaptive manner of coping with the reality of everyday problems and challenges.

Mr. Krehbiel's style is truly reminiscent of traditional cognitive behaviorists, and he provides numerous examples of how both counselors and their clients can positively adapt to life challenges.

In the first chapter, Reflections on Leaving the Bubble, Krehbiel describes the bubble we often create for ourselves in order to cope with the pains of living. He points out that while the bubble may appear to be protecting us from pain, it's also trapping us from living, growing and moving forward. He also describes how the bubble can trap in negative emotional energy, which can further complicate an already aggravated emotional state.

How can a person leave the bubble? Krehbiel believes that it takes courage.

Courage may be defined by those who live outside the bubble as opposed to those who live in it. I like to compare stepping out of the bubble to "wading out into the water." When one wades, they don't thrust themselves in, but slowly move deeper into the flow of things. They wait until they feel safe, defining a path and moving forward. Indeed, people need to be aware of their surroundings as they move forward, picking up cues from the environment. Stepping out of the bubble is not an impulsive act. It is a slow, conscious decision.

It's the courage to change that gets us out of the bubble, and helps us confront our pain. However, since we are creatures of habit, courage alone won't break maladaptive patterns of behavior. Krehbiel believes that we need to use that courage to change certain aspects of ourselves. By focusing on certain areas of our lives — like authenticity, commitment to change, recognition of problems — the author posits that real change will occur, and the ability to live and survive outside of the bubble will become a reality.

The remainder of the book includes techniques and strategies for counselors. He focuses on particular issues experienced by clients, like phobias, anxiety and depression, and also gives great attention to spirituality, parenting, and pop culture.

Krehbiel ends his book with the theme of growth. He discusses strategies for staying motivated and how to keep a balanced perspective on your life. In the last chapter, he states:

Stepping out of the bubble means moving on, no matter what the circumstances. It means being a fighter, the kind of fighter that never gives up hope. We can envision in our minds what we want the future to hold. Then we must go out into the world and work to make it happen. Complete failure is not an option. Mistakes are an option.

Although the book is seemingly intended for counselors, I found the book to be accessible to anyone looking to permanently step out of their emotional bubble. Krehbiel goes out of his way to explain certain terms and phrases that may be confusing to those without a degree in counseling, and offers brief case studies that many readers will relate to.

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