By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Seeing a therapist can help you develop more hope.
Many of the clients who come to see counselors tell us that they suffer from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem may create anxiety and depression, and it certainly makes those two problems worse. It’s hard to accomplish much if you don’t feel good about yourself.
One key component of low self-esteem is a lack of hope. Hope is made up of two parts, the belief that if you try something, you be able to do it, and the belief that you can generate multiple plans that will get you to your goal. Having more than one possible path forward gives you options and hope. The process of working with the counselor or therapist can increase your hope and raise your self-esteem. Here are some of the ways counseling may increase your hope and boost your self-esteem.
Counselors increase hope by showing unconditional positive regard.
If you suffer from low self-esteem, you likely have become hopeless, and don’t feel good about yourself. Sometimes this is because significant people in your life were abusive or negative towards you. It can also be the result of believing that one failure makes you a failure in life. Counselors call this black-and-white thinking. It’s an example of perfectionism at its worst.
Counselors are trained to see the potential in their clients, not the problems. Having the counselor believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself can provide you with another way of looking at your challenges. When you’re able to see things from a different point of view, the path forward looks brighter.
Counselors believe in your ability to make changes.
One thing that makes counseling helpful is the counselor’s ability to believe in your potential for change. The counselor frequently believes in your potential far more than you believe in yourself. While the counselor may not like some of the things you’ve done or are doing, a good counselor will continue to believe in your abilities to grow and change even when you don’t.
Counselors can help you see that you are not alone.
The technical term for this is normalizing problems. At many points in your life, you will face challenges that are specific to that time. It’s common to think you should be farther along in life than your chronological age. It can be helpful to hear that what you’re going through is common for other teenagers, new parents, people starting a new job, and so on.
One of the reasons self-help groups can be so useful is that you will meet other people who are going through exactly what you’re going through. It is reassuring to know that you’re not defective or crazy. That given what you’ve been through, how you’re feeling and acting makes sense. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any things you can do to improve your life.
Sometimes all you see are the problems, not the possibilities.
The counselor can help you by offering you other perspectives on the challenges you are facing. This process is sometimes called “a new pair of glasses.” The technical term counselors are taught is reframing. If you’ve gotten used to looking at the world through a dirty pair of glasses, the whole world begins to look filthy. Cleaning your glasses by using the counselor’s vision of your life and future can help you see new possibilities.
Being honest and genuine increases hope.
The counselor can teach you how to be honest and genuine by demonstrating those characteristics. There may be other people in your life who were dishonest and lied to you. Knowing the truth can set you on the path to change. Hopefully, the counselor will tell you these hard truths in a general way, and at a time, you can hear them. That process of experiencing someone in your life as extremely honest can help you grow.
Counselors can help you learn needed life skills.
You only know what you know, and sometimes the biggest impediment to growth is not knowing what you don’t know. Many of the most useful skills in life are not taught in school. If your parent or caregiver had their own problems, and they almost always do, you may have learned some things about life that worked when you were a child, but don’t work now that you’re an adult.
Counseling can be a corrective emotional experience.
You may have had damaging emotional experiences in the past. The counseling room is one place you can work through those experiences without having to worry about living with or seeing this person after the processes over.
The process of sharing your deepest secrets with another human can be freeing. If your past relationships have been one-sided or abusive, meeting someone whose primary concern is helping you may be a new experience.
The therapy or consulting room is inherently a unique situation. It’s a place where you can reveal your darkest secrets and know that the counselor is legally and ethically bound to keep those secrets unless you are harming someone who is helpless and can’t protect themselves. It’s important to remember that the counseling room is a laboratory where you can learn new skills and practice them, but it’s not real life.
As you begin to change and grow, your counselor should help you to transfer the skills you’ve learned as a result of the counseling process into your life outside the counseling room. Ideally, your counseling experience will have increased your level of hope and raised your self-esteem.
For more about hope, please see – Hope
For more on the process of counseling, please see the category – Counseling and Therapy
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.
What if your family secrets put you in danger?
Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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