I have spent time counseling many different people in different socioeconomic statuses. Individuals who have varying cultural beliefs and needs. I have counseled individuals and families who are wholeheartedly involved in the process and see varying degrees of positive results, and I’ve worked with others who are on the opposite end of that spectrum. Your attitude about the counseling process does affect your outcome.
So what is counseling?
1. Counseling is a process of give and take. You give of your deepest worries, regrets, beliefs, struggles, fears, problems…. When you give of these things seeking relief, what you get back is support and understanding, empathy, compassion. Counselors aren’t there to do the work for you though. We aren’t there to give you advice and tell you how to handle each issue that you are dealing with. Counselors are there to support you through the process of finding your way of resolving the conflicts you face in a healthy manner. I find the majority of people know the answer, they are just too afraid or lack the skills to change their circumstances or patterns. Yes, even children and teenagers often know how to resolve things in their own way, they just need someone to back them up. When you approach counseling in this way, you get a sense of peace and understanding of your inner self.
2. Sometimes it just helps to have someone on the outside looking in. When you’ve tried over and over again to solve a situation with no success, it’s helpful to speak with someone who can be objective. Someone who does not know you or your family/friends personally. When we talk to family members or good friends about our problems, they have a personal agenda already…that’s YOU or themselves. They are there to protect you or themselves. A counselor doesn’t gain from your problems in any way other than seeing you successfully find solutions. We aren’t there to judge your actions, degrade your decisions, or jump on the bandwagon of tearing down someone who has wronged you. We are there to listen….just listen…and allow you to process what is happening in your life and focus on solutions to change what you are unhappy about. I once had a teen who said to me matter of factly “Everyone needs counseling!” She was not worried about others knowing she saw a counselor. As a matter of fact, I think she was proud of herself for her work and dedication to change.
Why Should You Seek Counseling?
1. The stress in your life is beginning to affect your ability to make good decisions. It’s affecting your family…there is tension in the home around you. Everyone is walking on eggshells per say. Your family is acting out due to your stress…children are more clingy/aggressive, parents are arguing over the child’s behavior, one parent is siding with the child while the other is struggling to connect, there is high conflict in the home. Your work ethic is disintegrating due to burnout, fatigue, lack of motivation because you have so many other stressors pushing you down, or maybe your home life is disintegrating because the only relief you find is at work.
2. You or your child is engaging in self destructive behavior through the use of drugs/alcohol, sexual behavior, aggression, or self-harm.
3. No one seems to understand what you are going through, and you feel alone and lost. You worry that your life will always be this way. You find little meaning or direction in your life.
4. Your child/teen’s behavior has suddenly changed. Grades are dropping, they are no longer interested in sports or activities they used to love. They can’t maintain their attention in school. Maybe they are acting out behaviorally at school. They have few to no friends.
5. You are experiencing suicidal thoughts. If this is the case, please contact your local crisis line. Seek help immediately. There are several hotlines that you can call and just talk to someone.
National Hopeline Network
Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
There are many reasons to seek counseling. It’s never too late to seek help, and it’s never too early. I would encourage you to take the step if it’s something you’ve been contemplating. Don’t wait until life spirals out of your control and you lose relationships that are most valuable to you. If you feel your child may need counseling, seek someone when you begin contemplating this. Often times parents worry their teen or child will not talk to a counselor because they don’t talk to them, but if you find the right counselor they will open up about what is going on in their life. I find teens are often relieved to finally have someone to listen to them and not lecture them about their poor choices. They are often the quickest to talk in my experience.
You will never regret seeking help, but you may regret never asking for help.