Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The CTC Moment

Lunch with a few counselors can be somewhat exhausting, especially when it's three women who are coworkers as well as friends. About a year ago, my two coworker/friends and I were eating lunch in my friend CC's (not her real name) office. We were sharing personal stories, which is what we do when we escape to CC's office for an "all-girls'" lunch. A simple "what are you doing this weekend?" led to a story about CC's father and stepmother. She went through the myriad of emotions many of us feel around our families: guilt, sadness, guilt, frustration, guilt. (Did I mention guilt?) She talked about how she always has to make plans to see her father because he doesn't seem interested in making time to see her. She felt obligated to drive an hour to see them early so that she wouldn't interfere with the rest of their day's plans, but she was tired from work and didn't really want to. As I listened to her and watched her get teary-eyed, I gave her the best counseling advice I could give during lunch: "CUT THE CRAP!"

She was a bit taken aback, but what I said afterwards clarified my little outburst. The real issue was that her mom died and her brother is estranged, so her father is the only family she has, and he's only in the upstate New York area for six months out of the year. I told her to accept the truth that he is her only family and to suck it up, because if SHE wanted to see her father, SHE had to make the plans to see him. What was most important was not who initiated the contact, but that they actually spent time together. I told her she had already lost her mother and that she should make the best of whatever time she had with her father. After the initial shock of my sage but tactless advice, she agreed. She dried the tears, and thus the phrase "CTC moment" was born.

After I saw how well CTC worked with my colleague, I decided that I might have to use it with my students. The opportunity came up when I received a phone call that a student was having some academic and emotional difficulties. That student was referred to me, and as she talked about her self-destructive behaviors, she also provided the reasons for, as well as how she rationalizes, her harmful activities. There was nothing for me to figure out, nothing to look for, because she provided it all for me. The only solution, as I saw it, was for her to "CUT THE CRAP!" She knew the root of her problems. She had the resources to get well. All she needed to do was make the choice to get well. Did she? I'm not sure, but I know I made it pretty clear that her rationalizations were "crap" and she needed to get past them so that she could achieve her academic and personal goals.

"CUT THE CRAP!" is the crudest way to describe my counseling philosophy. As I get older, I find that my patience for whining grows thin pretty quickly. If my students don't understand the reasons for their behavior, I help them get to those reasons, and then make an action plan for moving past them, so that they can achieve their goals. Truly, if we cut through the excuses, rationalizations, and fears that guide our (in)action(s), we would get to the true desires of our hearts.

The CTC Moment is a catalyst for change in an individual's life, whether he or she needs to change a thought, emotion, or behavior. Am I right or what?


  1. Girl. I needed this like two months ago. I've had a hard time adjusting to living in Miami. I've been so deep in my own crap that I haven't been able to notice my own whining. When I started to see it on other people's faces I got pissed off...first and them but then at myself. For me that's when the real action happens. I'm now in Warrior princess mode. I'll keep you posted.

  2. Hi Angie,

    Sometimes we really do need someone to point out to us that we're a bit funky. It's so important to have a few friends who keep you accountable. I'm glad that you're in Warrior princess mode now! I miss you!