You may have thought that seeing a counselor was for other people and not you. But now you find yourself hurting and you don’t know what else to do. While seeing a counselor may be considered a stigma for some, it is not only for the “mentally ill.” Instead, it is for those who may find themselves at a crossroads in life and need the assistance and support of someone without their own agenda to pursue.
Friends and family are great, but they may have something to gain from important decisions or simply feel powerless to help. One of the ethical tenets of a counselor’s profession (American Counseling Association Code of Ethics, A.4.b.) is that we are aware of our own values and avoid imposing these on our clients. A counselor’s primary goal therefore is to help our clients identify their personal values and live a life congruent with those values.
Counseling also is for those who want to make specific changes to their life, such as feeling less depressed or anxious. Some of the symptoms characteristic of depression include depressed mood, diminished interest in activities, fluctuating weight, insomnia or hyperinsomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, and feelings of worthlessness. Anxiety, meanwhile, translates into persistent worry, difficulty controlling the worry, irritability, sleep disturbance, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension. Often times, when someone experiences any of these symptoms, they just want relief but don’t know how to accomplish it. This is when a licensed counselor can be of value. Many times, clients think that they aren’t preoccupied or worried, but after digging around, we identify a number of reasons for their distress. By learning the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and effective distress tolerance skills, clients often find symptom improvement.
Families and couples also may seek out a trained professional to discuss and work through difficult issues for which they have no hope. Couples may experience infidelity and want to rebuild trust. Or some may find it impossible to communicate with their spouse or resolve conflict. Then throw kids in the mix and the relationship can become even more strained. Couples need help learning how to parent and discipline their kids, treat a child’s learning disability or ADHD, and address any rebelliousness or conflict in adolescence.
As you can see, the reasons for seeking a counselor are varied. We recognize that it takes a great deal of courage to seek out a counselor with whom you can be vulnerable and share your innermost thoughts and feelings. If you are experiencing challenges that seem out of your control, is affecting your day-to-day life and those around you, seek counseling to gain the tools you need to be the healthiest person you can be.