Will Counseling Work For Me?
Will beekeeping? Will homeopathic remedies? Will fixing your own transmission? Will doing the same thing over and over again work for you? I dunno.
You are unique. Going to a professional counselor might not work for you, but there are some very compelling reasons to give it a try. The better question might be, “Will you work at counseling?”
Why Don’t We Go?
Some people feel like going to counseling is like waving a “white flag” on their life and represents quitting. “I should be able to handle this! It is, after all, my life! Why do I need someone else poking around in it?”
Going to counseling is not “giving up.“ Far from it, it can be an incredibly courageous step and can help you regain control of your life. But it does involve surrender.
You are surrendering the idea that you have all the answers. (You are surrendering the idea that you have all the questions!)
You are “giving up” on the notion that you’ve got this, you are managing this, this is under control. You are “giving up” the idea that what you are currently doing is getting you the results you want in your life and relationships. It might be time to “give up.”
Some people won’t go because they are embarrassed or they think there is a stigma attached to seeing a counselor or therapist. Some think that they will be paying someone to just listen to them, and hey, they have friends that will do that for free.
This is tragic because more and more people are going to counseling or have gone at some point and benefited from it. According to one recent study, 4 in 10 American adults (42%) have seen a counselor at some point in their lives. Another 36% reported that they are open to going. (The numbers are about the same for men and women.)
You are probably surrounded by people who have talked to a mental health professional at some point. They are people you admire, people you think “have it together.” Yup, they have probably seen a counselor or therapist. You just didn’t know because they didn’t have a sign over their head that read, “I Am Seeing A Counselor.” Don’t worry. You won’t have a sign over your head either.
Quick Question: Would you be “embarrassed” to take your car in to be seen by a mechanic? If you were diabetic, would you be “embarrassed” to go to a doctor for insulin? Nope. Not at all.
When it comes to mental and emotional health, when it comes to relating to ourselves or to others, the least “embarrassing” thing we can do is see the pros.[Word to the Fellas: Sometimes going to counseling or seeing a therapist is a bigger step for us. Some of it is just male ego, but some of it is very legitimate.
Generally, guys don’t bond by expressing themselves to strangers. They have to have a bond in place before they can express themselves, so it can be extra difficult to find the right counselor and take time to build that bond.
Generally, guys don’t process thoughts and emotions by talking them out as easily as women do. That’s just not how we are wired. Don’t let these things keep you from counseling. I’ve connected with great counselors who not only gave great advice and had awesome insights, but they turned me on to movies, music, and books that applied to my situation and that’s what we talked about at my next visit. Very cool.
Ladies, your man struggling a bit with counseling does not mean he isn’t invested in the relationship. Be patient. We’re different.]
Why Give It A Try?
Blindspots. Sometimes we have blind spots and are just not in a position to see ourselves or a situation clearly. An outside, objective perspective is just what we need to shed some light on certain areas of our lives and relationships.
Pattern Recognition. Even though our lives and our relationships are unique, a counselor may recognize patterns we don’t see, patterns that keep us from being our best selves or having healthy relationships.
Maintenance. Car maintenance always costs less than repair. When it’s our lives, the costs can be devastating. Counseling can be looked at as a check-up or letting a mechanic “pop the hood” and make sure everything sounds good and is running smoothly so we don’t wreck down the road and hurt ourselves and others. You don’t have to have “problems” to see a counselor; you can go to avoid them.
Professionals. Things like addiction, anger, depression, anxiety, relational problems, issues that “run in the family,” traits that were inherited or go back to our childhood are often just flat out bigger than us and require a professional trained to help us handle them. Get that help!
Decisions. Sometimes we are on the cusp of making very big life decisions or changes and it is totally helpful and healthy to talk to someone about it first. They might just give you the clarity and confidence you need.
Mediation. Whether it is a spouse, partner, teenager, or the entire family, sometimes it really helps to have a mediator, or go-between, to handle difficult conversations or situations. The counselor can keep things from escalating, ask the right questions, maybe even say the things that are too hard for you to say. Their office just might be a “safe” place to talk things out.
Listen, I’ve gone to individual counseling and marriage counseling during different seasons of my life. Two of my children went to counseling as teens.
It took some phone calls, even some trial and error to make the right connection, but the benefits were enormous and I have no regrets. Counseling, for me at least, was way better than beekeeping.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
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