5 Reasons to Seek Counselling
Why should I seek counselling? This is a question I have heard from my clients and honestly a phrase I have pondered for myself. I will meet new clients who have never sat in front of a counsellor before, and it seems foreign to them and really, when you look at the concept of counselling it can be considered a somewhat strange encounter.
This counsellor/client relationship does not have to be a life-long commitment. The choice is yours; you are in control of this relationship. Individuals will go to counselling for many reasons and in the end, it becomes a personal choice and motivation when they are ready to share their inner most secrets or just talk to someone who is willing to listen to their story.
It can be a daunting task to find a counsellor when you are ready to make the move, however, it doesn’t have to be difficult. I understand the hesitation when you look at all of the different types of therapy and do not really understand what differentiates them.
- How is this going to help me?
- Will my counsellor understand what I am saying?
- Will we connect?
So many questions before you even sit in the chair. Individuals who are thinking of seeing a counsellor will be feeling many emotions, one of which is vulnerability. The last thing you want is to speak with someone who doesn’t t understand what you are trying to convey. The reasons to go to counselling can range from Anxiety to Violence victim support. Whether it is for making a change or striving to reach your full potential you can decide where you want it to go; delve into the past or focus on the here and now. It is up to you.
Whether it is a personal choice or you are mandated to attend counselling, hopefully the experience is life altering. The experience is unique for everyone and can realize change if they are open and willing to explore the deep corners of their mind. The most important point to remember is that it is up to you, the individual to make a change; YOU are in control. The key is to be able to ask the difficult questions and be able to unpack what is waiting to be discovered.
A good counsellor can help you navigate through this unknown territory. The first golden rule to the counselor/client relationship is to build a therapeutic alliance; without this, there is no foundation. So, remember, if you are not connecting with your counselor in the first 2 or 3 sessions, you know it is time to move on. There is nothing wrong with that.
1) Connection/therapeutic alliance – I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure there is a connection between you and your counsellor. The foundation of therapy is the relationship. Sometimes you get lucky and you connect with the first counsellor you sit down with; however, it may take a few visits to find the person you feel comfortable with. You are speaking to a stranger about your inner most secrets. Make sure that the person sitting across from you is actively listening and offering you a genuine emotional warmth and caring vibe. It might involve compassionate or empathic listening, or even laughter. You will know when you have found this relationship and it is a beautiful moment when it does occur. Collaboration is key in counselling, whereas, it is not up to the counselor to control the session, it takes effort from counsellor and client and more importantly the client should take the lead on the sessions. Please note that therapists who have been practicing for 15 years don’t have greater success with clients than those who have only been in the field for 2 years.
2) Coping skills and strategies – When you enter the relationship with a counselor, often times you may feel like you are painted into a corner and there is no way out. Or there is a way out, however, you are not sure which path to take.
This can be an ambivalent feeling. We don’t even realize it at the time, but we are all coping on a daily basis. Coping at work, with family, friends etc. There is healthy coping and maladaptive coping and it is difficult to realize it when it is happening because it is our automatic response.
So, ask yourself the question: what are my coping skills? Do I hide when I need to deal with an undesirable situation, or procrastinate, or do I disengage, turn to alcohol or drugs. Or do I deal with the situation openly and honestly? It is the counselor’s role to guide you in your pain and offer healthy coping strategies that are custom fit to your life. This should be a work in progress, whereas, if the first coping strategy does not work, you continue with Plan B and so on. A counselor is able to offer you a coping toolbox. It is your role to let the counselor know if it is a good fit or not. This is the only way to move forward to managing your stress on a day to day basis.
3) Safety – As I mentioned earlier there are many reasons to go see a counselor from wanting to just go and talk with someone for a sounding board, dealing with thoughts of suicide ideation or mental health issues. When we discuss the more serious issues such as suicidal ideation the importance of seeking counselling is extremely beneficial. If you are having feelings of isolation. Now is the time to reach out to someone. That can be a friend, family member, or a trusted counsellor. Speaking to a counselor can give you a feeling of hope and comfort.
4) Self- care – One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure you are making time for self-care. Often, we take care of our physical health, however, we forget to address our mental health needs. A counsellor can help you find the coping skills and strategies when seeking your self-care needs.
Create a Self-Awareness and Self-Care plan to establish and work toward meeting goals for improved self-awareness and self-care.
- What is your Opportunity for growth?
- Your goals?
- Coping strategies?
- Support system(s)?
5) Resiliency – As a result of Covid-19, resiliency has become a topic of interest around the world. All of us are dealing with this pandemic in our own way, and collectively we are all affected. We have seen people shut down, while others have gone through it with ease and resolve.
A recent initiative from the Dale Carnegie Training conducted a study of more than 6500 individuals in 21 countries. People who are resilient are able to consistently give their best and embrace change.
It is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. In the past, resilience was thought to be an innate quality. Some people had the ability, whereas, other did not. It is influenced by genetics, but also can be built over time. It is possible to become resilient only if you are willing to do the work. Describe past difficulties you have overcome. How did you handle it? Is this something that you got past or are you still struggling?
It is a balance between accepting the negative thoughts and acknowledgement of knowing we can get past something through the adversity with the proper skills. Generally, people who are resilient are more flexible. They don’t let much bother them and accept change easily. When we talk about change, it doesn’t have to be a major event. It is important to look at all changes in our lives and how we handle these situations.
Our levels of resiliency will change and develop throughout our lives. A counselor can help you to develop mechanisms for protection against experiences which could be overwhelming, help you to maintain balance during stressful periods, and finally, protect you from developing mental health difficulties.
Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay, describes resilience as a heroic struggle. “It’s really a battle, not a bounce – an ongoing battle that can last for years.”
- Here are some essential tips for how you can become more resilient:
- Recognize that your struggle is valid, no matter what you’re struggling with
- Realize the ways you’re already resilient
- Don’t wait for the situation to fix itself
- Know your strengths and use them
- Don’t try to do it alone
- Know that it is okay not to tell everyone
- Find your favorite way to take a mental break
- Be compassionate with yourself and realize all the ways adversity has made you strong.
“It is WHEN we realize who we are and WHAT is most important to us that we begin SELF DISCOVERY”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go…..Dr. Seuss