Who Needs Counseling?
Reluctance about counseling
“I don’t want to talk to a stranger about all my personal
Counseling costs too much.”
It won’t help anyway.”
I don’t have the time.”
Therapy is for crazy people … and I’m not crazy.”
Are you reluctant to consider counseling for a personal, family
or marital problem? Take heart, you’re not alone. Still, it’s
important to realize that counseling with a trained professional
might be helpful for what you’re facing.
Therapy isn’t the stereotypical picture of you lying on a
couch talking about how you were potty-trained. It’s not some
individualized version of Analyze This or What About
counseling can help you gain a better understanding of what’s
going on in your situation and inside yourself. This awareness can
give you a new viewpoint on yourself and your circumstances, help
you make good choices and lead to action steps that will change your
life. When it feels like you can’t see the forest for the trees,
it’s a good time to seek an outside perspective.
It’s not just for crazy people
Corporations hire consultants every day — outsiders with an
objective vantage point to help assess, plan and implement changes
that will better the company. You take your car to a mechanic when
you hear that “clunking” sound, because he knows more
about cars than you do. Elite-level athletes frequently elicit specialty
coaches to help them improve mental focus and discipline.
People are always seeking outside assistance. It’s no different
when the issue is anxiety, perfectionism, depression, lack of confidence,
marital discord or an alcoholic spouse. Going to a trained expert
who is objective and will help you make significant changes is just
plain smart. Marriages sometimes need a tune-up when communication
hits a stalemate. Seeking out a “brain coach” can help
you with your lack of confidence or inability to make that important
decision. While you may not choose to tell people you are seeking
therapy, it’s nothing to be ashamed of — you’re
in good company.
What to expect from a therapist
- During your first appointment, your rights as a client, state
confidentiality laws and limitations of therapy will be given to
you in writing
or reviewed verbally with you. The therapist will also give you a written
disclosure statement of his/her licensure, other credentials
and areas of expertise.
- The therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your present
situation and important background information. You will be
interviewed and possibly given a written psychological assessment
- The counselor will then suggest a treatment plan, whether written
or verbalized, about how to address the issue(s) at hand. Part
of this plan will be the therapist’s best guess as to how
long (assuming no new issues arise) the counseling process is
If you are worried about your privacy and fear that your secrets
will get out, realize that all licensed professionals are bound
by law to keep confidential what is said and documented in a therapy
session. There are exceptions in situations where there is potential
suicide or homicide danger, evidence of physical abuse to a minor
or an elderly person, or suspicion of sexual abuse of a minor.
a therapist is obligated to inform you of this at your first appointment.
Choosing a good therapist
Not a last resort
- Get referrals. You can check with
friends, a school counselor, churches and/or your physician’s
- Interview each counselor over the telephone. Ask questions
like: What credentials and certifications do you have? How long
you been in practice? What issues do you specialize in? What is your
experience in the specific area I am seeking counseling for?
How would you approach this type of issue? Do you assign homework?
What are your fees? Ask as many questions as you want.
- Choose a therapist and begin. Not all therapists
operate the same way. Some will be very interactive. Some may have
an “in your
face” style. Others will be more subdued and simply reflect
back to you what they hear you saying and what they sense you are
feeling. Picking a therapist is like buying a new pair of shoes.
While there are many quality shoes around, you only buy the pair
that fits you. There is no “one size fits all” in counseling.
If the counselor doesn’t feel like a fit, don’t buy.
While individual styles of therapy vary, it is usually better to
choose a counselor who is active, not passive in the session, working
with you — not just listening to you.
- Actively work with the therapist. If you disagree,
speak up. If you have questions, ask. If the therapist isn’t
making sense, seek clarification. The more active you are in the
- Realize that you are not “stuck” with a counselor forever.
If things are not going well or no clear plan
of action is shared with you, speak up. If your personalities
don’t match or
his/her style is not what you are comfortable with, talk
openly about making
a change to another therapist.
When it comes to dealing with the changes, challenges and crises
of life, it’s important to seek help early. Don’t wait
until that clunking noise turns into total transmission failure.
The sooner you seek help, the shorter and easier it will usually
be, because there is less of a “mess” to deal with. Counseling
isn’t just for crazy or weak people; it’s for anyone
who can benefit from an outside, objective, expert perspective to
help them along this journey of life.
If you’d like to talk with a counselor at TroubledWith, or
would like information about counselors in your local area, please
visit our “Consider
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