How does Counseling Work
Counseling involves more than just talking to someone.
The following is a list of the other elements that are part of a therapeutic relationship. When all of these things are put together, people get better faster.
1. No Matter How Disturbing The Subject, The Counselor Will Still Be Engaged
When you share uncomfortable information with friends or family, their natural reaction may be to withdraw or run away. A counselor is able to stay in the room, physically, emotionally, relationally, and personally—even in the midst of difficult topics.
2. A Counselor Will Not Judge
A counselor won’t shame or judge your actions. He or she is there to help you understand how you got into this situation, why you made the decisions you made, and the best way to make things right .
3. A Counselor Has Empathy, Insight, Understanding, And Acceptance
A counselor does more than blindly listen. He or she has the desire and ability to hurt with you without getting lost in that hurt. That’s called empathy.
In the midst of that empathy, they will have tools and ideas to help you navigate through some of the difficult situations you find yourself in.
Your counselor knows how to listen with understanding. They get all the information first (or as much as possible) so they have a complete picture of the situation.
Since a counselor can not change the past, they will help you learn how to accept the situation as it is, accept yourself unconditionally, and accept the next steps in the process.
4. Counselors Give You The Opportunity To Speak The Unspeakable
Sometimes, things that are so difficult to talk about that you carry them around for years. They weigh on you, causing emotional, relational, and physical problems. When you reach the point where you can no longer carry the secret, a counselor will be able to listen to your story and help you figure out what to do.
5. Counselors Provide A Safe Environment To Be A Mess
Looking at the heavy stuff in your life can be messy.
Because the counseling relationships is confidential and protected, you can stop worrying about how you look or who will see you. You are protected, sheltered, and cared for as you start to experience the appropriate emotions that come along with difficult situations.
6. A Counselor Can Be Safely Be Used As A Transference Object Without Counter-Transference Getting In The Way
Transference is when a client has strong feelings towards their counselor.
Counter-Transference is when the counselor has strong feelings towards their client.
When you were a child, you were told that what you had to say was stupid and unimportant. You quickly learned not to speak your mind or share anything you were thinking about.
When you get into counseling, and the counselor ask you, “So, what do you think?” you will probably experience the same feelings of fear that you felt as a child. You will treat the counselor the same way you treated the adults in your life. You may withdraw or lash out against the counselor.
Because the counselor is trained, he or she will be aware of his own reactions (counter-transference) to your reaction (transference) and choose a healthy response. It is this healthy response which starts to challenge your belief systems and shows you that you have different options on how to interact with your world. If the counselor wasn’t aware of their own reactions, and reacted in the same way that the hurtful adults in your life reacted, they would be reinforcing the negative experience and not being able to provide adequate help in your growth process.
Finding A Good Counselor
It’s not always easy finding someone you click with. Take your time, find someone you feel safe with, and then start to do the work. You’ll find out for yourself just how valuable counseling can truly be.
How can therapy help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Do you take insurance, and how does that work?
To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and a psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law, your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.