By David Joel Miller.
What do people get out of therapy?
People who have been to see a counselor or therapist, those who have gone long enough to see the results, know some secrets about the process that most other people never find out. Counseling should help you create the life you want, not confirm someone’s opinion that there is something wrong with you.
Going for therapy does not mean you are crazy or a mental case. Plenty of people see a counselor to work on their life skills. Being in therapy does not mean you are and will always be mentally ill. The point of counseling is to move you from being overwhelmed by life’s problems to a place where you can handle them.
Therapy should be about wellness not sickness.
The really sick people don’t go for treatment even what they need it because they are afraid that getting treatment means they are ill. This is the equivalent of trying to not “give in to cancer.”
You can learn that what you are dealing with is normal.
We hear in the counseling room from a lot of people that they thought they were the only one who felt that way or had that problem. Turns out that most of lifes problems are common, so is suffering in silence. It can help a whole lot to know that what you are going though happens to lots of people at a particular point in life. It can also help to hear how others have solved this problem. This is one reason that group therapy is extra helpful.
Sometimes you just need to talk it out.
Family and friends find it difficult to just listen. They want to fix you or tell you what to do. It pains them that you are having problems and they just want to stop hearing your pain. Talking too much about life’s problems with family and friends can burn them out.
Sometimes all you need to do is just talk this problem through with an objective person who will not judge you or tell you not to feel what you feel. You partner can’t always be objective and hear you talk.
It helps to have someone listen to you.
They probably didn’t teach you about emotions in school.
Feelings are a taboo subject in many homes. You may have been taught that you should not have feelings or that it was not OK to express them.
Learning how to feel, recognize that feeling and then give it a name, can help you learn to regulate your emotions. If you have unrecognized feelings, therapy can help you learn to manage those feeling inside you.
Therapy can de-stress you.
Sometimes therapy makes you really face your problems. People come in depressed and after explaining their life to the therapist they decide that their life is a mess. Then they have a choice, do the hard work of changing things or leave things as they are, depression and all.
There may be gaps in your life skills inventory.
Mostly what you know about life came from living the one life you have had so far, yours. There are all kinds of life skills you need and it is hard to pick them up while rushing through your daily activates.
Your counselor can help you with the life skills you may have missed out on. Making friends, regulating emotions and getting things in perspective all require skills and practice.
It helps to have supporters.
You need supportive people in your life. Your therapist should be on your side. This does not mean that they will always agree with you or tell you that you are right. You need them to be honest if they are really supporting you.
They also should not try to make you dependent on them. You will need supporters after you are done with therapy. Helping you design a plan to create a support system is another thing your counselor may be able to do to help you get your life on track.
You can get a more objective opinion.
Friends tell you what they think you want to hear. Family members may want to influence you, get you to do things that are in their best interests or right for them but may not be good for you. A counselor can be really honest. They may slip up on that honesty, looking for a way to tell you things in a kind or gently way, but know that at heart they want you to know exactly how things are.
You need to work on the things you are afraid of.
In the counseling room is one time you can really talk about the things you were afraid to tell anyone. This is the place to let your secrets out and know that this person will do all they can to maintain your confidentiality. Yes there are a few things, like your being suicidal or abuse of a child they have to report, but most everything else they will keep to themselves.
If you have questions about this look at some of the other post on counselorssoapbox.com about what is and is not confidential. It also helps to ask your counselor and see how they answer this question.
Change is a process.
In the therapy room you learn about the course of change. You can experience change a little or a lot at a time. We all move through our change process at our own rate. Sometimes you need to change a little and then change some more.
Prevention is important.
Sometimes it pays to go in and talk with an expert when you are faced with issues. This can help you to cope with a problem before it swamps you. Sorting things out can prevent your struggle becoming overwhelming.
This is one place you can really be you.
You do not need to worry about pleasing the counselor or if they will like you. This is a consulting relationship not a long-term friends one. You should not need to worry about being judged. This is the one time you get to really “tell it like it is.”
Unpacking your baggage is painful and needs help.
Working through old issues, getting that baggage unpacked and sorted through, is something that happens often in the therapy room. This should be a safe place to work on those old hurts and pains that you can’t talk about anywhere else. This is one place you ought not get judged.
Counseling should be taken as needed.
You may need to attend every week or every few weeks. Some people go for a while, take a break and return as their life changes. This does not mean you are week or can’t handle life. What it does means is you know how to make use of professional help as needed.
Counseling helps you find and accept you.
Working on me and trying to find myself are common themes in counseling. This is the time and place to explore your inner self and really get to know those parts of yourself that may be hard to stop and take a look at.
Your therapist is on your side.
Your therapist is an ally in your self-change and self-exploration. They really want the best for you and will do what they can to help you get there. If you don’t feel this then this is one of the first things you should talk about.
For more on this topic see: Counseling and Therapy
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books