Ideally, a counselor is an objective and non-judgmental person who is not involved in your life outside of the therapy session. You shouldn't have to worry about hurting your counselor's feelings or whether they will like "the real you" or not. You should not have to worry whether your disclosures to your counselor will directly threaten your job or your relationships. If your counselor cannot be objective with you, they should refer you to someone who can be.
Counseling is confidential (except in some very specific circumstances that you should be informed about before you begin), so you don't have to worry about other people finding out your innermost thoughts and feelings. Your counselor's sole purpose is to listen to you and understand your point of view so that he or she can help you with your concerns.
Counseling is not necessarily for everyone, but when counseling is effective, it may help clients:
- institute change
- find hope
- increase self-awareness
- develop new perspectives
- identify strengths and resources
- improve self-esteem
- feel empowered
- discover new solutions
- normalize experiences
- develop insight
- adopt a more positive outlook
- foster acceptance
- explore options
- adjust to situations
- increase objectivity
- learn new skills
- create and work toward goals
- increase motivation
- challenge fears
- Make you change or do anything you don't really want to do
- Change or "fix" other people in your life
- Give you the answers
- Make decisions for you or tell you definitively what to do
- Cure you or "fix you"
- Take the place of your personal responsibility
Not everybody benefits from counseling and there are potential risks to making a change. Sometimes counseling leads to changes in you that your significant others , co-workers, or superiors don't appreciate or accept. This can change important relationships and roles. In addition, it can be painful at first to talk about and confront the things that are troubling you. Your distress may actually increase during the early stages of counseling.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Your counselor knows only as much as you tell them, so its important to be honest. You wouldn't go to the doctor with chest pain and tell them your thumb hurts, right? This would result in a faulty diagnosis, the wrong treatment, and consequently, no improvement or even deterioration.
Change Takes Work
In general, counseling helps people help themselves and the more energy you put into your treatment, the more you will get out of it. When your physician gives you a prescription or instructions for getting better, you have to use the medication as directed or follow the instructions in order to experience any improvement. It is the same for counseling. Your counselor can help you generate options, but it is ultimately up to you to follow through with them outside of therapy.
Only You Can Change You
Your counselor can only help you with the change process and cannot make other people in your life change. Some people come to counseling because other people in their lives are causing problems for them. Your counselor can help you cope with the situation, but he or she has no power to change people, especially when the people who are contributing to your distress are not involved in your therapy.
It's All in the Relationship
You need to feel comfortable with your counselor for your therapy to be successful. Counselors understand that we are not going to be a match for everyone, so we are not offended when a client doesn't click with us. If you are concerned about your relationship with your counselor, you should try to address this with him or her so changes can be made. Your counselor should be able to provide you with some referral options if needed.
You can find mental health professionals in your area through online therapist locators such as those hosted by the American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Network Therapy and GoodTherapy. If you want to use your health insurance, you call the behavioral health number on the back of your insurance card or visit your insurance company website to get some referral options.
Please also visit my website http://www.kctherapist.com/ for more information and resources regarding a variety of mental health concerns.