What the heck is therapy/counseling?

Expectation versus reality
From KD Nuggets (https://www.kdnuggets.com/2016/10/big-data-science-expectation-reality.html)

This post launches a series I’m calling Therapy 101 – a way to learn what therapy is, what to expect, ask, and how to get connected to services. Do you have questions or things you’d want to know about therapy? Email or connect with me!

With the multiple ways in which mental health is stigmatized, there are a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable asking about, let alone seeking services. There have been a number of people I’ve worked with, at our first session, ask what to expect and what therapy/counseling is. Totally valid and important questions to ask! Today, let’s talk a bit about what therapy/counseling is.

Therapy and counseling are often used interchangeably. (I use both terms to mean the same thing!) When I talk about them, the process is about finding supports to help you through whatever may be going on – mental health symptoms or struggles, life changes, stress.

The thing to remember is that it’s rarely a linear process. Movies may show that you come in and, in just a few sessions, you’re “all better.” Sometimes. Sometimes not. It’s an ongoing conversation about what your goals are. As a counselor, my goal is to both help you reach your goals and to not be in counseling forever! I want you to go live your life.

What is the process even like? Well, again, movies give us our usual image of going into an office, laying on a couch, and just talking. That’s a particular style of counseling. Most counselors have people sitting in their office, facing one another, and we talk about what is most helpful in the moment, to help you reach your goals (whether feeling better, processing trauma, dealing with issues of addictive behaviors… the list could go on…) We’ll talk more specifically about this later in the series.

One other common concern from clients is that I will try to “change who they are.” For me, as a counselor, I never give advice and I work with people to find their own way. This means not imposing my own views/values on things. I make suggestions and offer potential tools to explore. If they don’t work? No worries! We’ll find others. During this series, we’ll talk more about what types of tools are available and how working with a counselor may help.

As I was writing this, I saw that the American Counseling Association (the professional organization I’m a member of) put together a great Q&A about counseling and counselors for their Counseling Awareness Month (in April!).

So, what questions do you have about counseling? Drop them in the comments below or contact me to start a conversation!

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