This is my favorite time of year. Not just because the weather is cooling off, and the tourists are headed home, but because the spiders are back. Yes, spiders. Every year around this time I spend countless hours watching these huge spiders building their webs. The webs are so intricate and detailed, and the spiders are so methodical in their work. I have noticed some spiders move very quickly while building and some are slow and seemingly distracted. I find myself unable to look away until the webs are complete. When completed they are like a work of art. They seem completely perfect; more like a drawing than something created by a usually disliked creature. More often than not, when I get up the next morning there is no sign of the spiders or their webs.
While I am watching them I am often thinking of how these spiders have to go through this process day after day. I often wonder what humans would do if we had to rebuild our homes or selves every day. As I pondered this, I determined that the process the spiders go through is very similar to the process individuals undertake in counseling.
Usually when people enter counseling it is because something isn’t working and they need to rebuild or recreate themselves. Counseling can help begin the process of rebuilding, but the pace is entirely up to the client. Clients who are ready for change may move rapidly to a new life, but others will move slowly or not at all. Counselors must let clients work at their own speed. Just as the spiders must work diligently until the web is complete, so must our clients work until change is complete.
Often a large insect or strong winds will destroy much of the web, and the spider will have to repair the damage. This is very much like our clients who have setbacks, and unexpected issues that threaten the forward progress they have made. These setbacks should be expected, but they do not have to destroy the good work that has been done. Just as the spider begins again, counselors must allow our clients to begin again without feeling as though we failed our clients somehow. Counselors should assist clients in understanding that setbacks are a part of life and teach skills that are needed to overcome these. Identifying the reason for the setback may be helpful, but it is important for the client not to get stuck here and revert to old patterns.
Whenever I feel like recreating myself is too difficult, I think about these spiders and what they must accomplish in a day. When the spider’s web is unhealthy (broken and mangled), it is likely that they will not live as long as a spider with a well maintained web. We must maintain our “webs” (mental/physical health, environment) so that we too can live and function well for as long as we are able.
Whenever you feel like giving up, think of what spiders must do daily, and how truly under appreciated they are.