|Posted on 18 August, 2015 at 9:00|
You've had some issues come up for you recently. Maybe they are things you haven't thought about in a long time, or maybe they pop into your mind a lot. But, you're tired of living this way. You're tired of thinking this way. Something has to change. You are thinking about talking to someone. You feel like you have worn your friends out on this stuff already and don't want to be a "Debbie Downer." Or you have kept it all inside because you don't think anyone will understand. This is a time when talking to a counselor may be helpful, but you wonder what the benefits of counseling are.
Below are several benefits of counseling. This is not an exhaustive list.
Confidentiality. When you talk to a counselor, your conversation remains confidential. While there are certain exceptions to this (a main one being threat of suicide), it is rare that a counselor must break confidentiality, and in that case it is for your safety. Behind this closed door you can feel free to share whatever is on your mind, whatever is bothering you. This is a safe place.
No Judgment. Your counselor will listen to you without judging you. I find that clients are often concerned about what I will think of something they have done or something that happened to them. It's safe to share even those things you don't want to tell anyone about. Counselors have heard many, many stories and situations, and are used to surprises from clients. Sometimes it takes a client months to decide they feel safe enough to share, but when they do, they find it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.
Active Listening. Your counselor is actively listening to what you say. They are paying attention to you and processing what you tell them. This is so they can validate your feelings, or even help you name feelings you weren't sure of or aware of. This also helps your counselor make connections in your story, pointing out patterns and themes in the narrative of your life that can give you insights and raise your awareness. Some clients have told me that a counseling session is the first time they felt like anyone was listening to them.
Non-biased feedback. Your counselor can help you draw conclusions from and make connections in your story. They can help you see another perspective and consider how others involved may have felt in the same situation. They can also offer challenges to your own behavior that help you gain insight into how you might handle things differently next time. Because the counselor is not emotionally involved in your story, they are able to see things through a different lens, not colored by any one person's point of view.
Feel Better. It can feel so good to talk something out. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to process it. Other times it's nice to have someone else agree with you or challenge you. When you work through the issue you are dealing with, a weight lifts off your shoulders. You begin to understand more about yourself and others. You clean out wounds from the past that are festering and throw off problems that are holding you back.
The point of living life is to move forward. We frequently (constantly?) encounter obstacles that impede our forward momentum, but we still have to go on. Often we may have to stop and tend to wounds before this can happen. How can you run with an infection? You can't. At least, not very well. That's where counseling comes in. Counseling can help clean out the wound so you can go on, go forward, like you are meant to do.