As a therapist we hear lots of different things throughout our day. We don’t always hear “the best” of things in peoples lives. One thing that has always struck me though is when people will say “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy” or “I feel so bad being in counseling.” These statements strike me because here we are in the year of 2020 and mental health has made small steps forward in breaking the old thought pattern that “only crazy people go to counseling” or that “there has to be something very wrong with me to be in counseling.”
Counseling is not a sign of weakness, in fact, going to counseling and talking with an unbiased person is very healthy and a beneficial activity one can engage in. Yes, many times people enter into counseling for symptoms related to depression or anxiety, but also, individuals will seek out counseling to help with other aspects of their lives.
Learning to express your emotions and feelings in a healthy way has significant benefits for an individual. Individuals are not always taught healthy ways to express and deal with their emotions. Males, in particular, are not always taught that emotions and feelings are natural, many times they are taught to not to have emotions or feelings, or that the only ‘manly’ emotions to have is anger. Male clients can learn to express their emotions and feelings in a healthy manner. When an individual learns how to effectively express and manage their emotions individuals can feel build lasting relationships with others, it helps to reduce tension in the body, and improves your physical and mental health.
Individuals can also benefit from in counseling to gain an outsider’s perspective on issues. Sometimes we turn to friends or loved ones for guidance and opinions on what to do with problems that we are facing. While the intent from those individuals is good, sometimes a perspective from an unbiased individual provides a deeper understanding of the problem, we can gain a different perspective of how to resolve the problem, and one can gain a deeper understanding of repeated thinking errors that one engages in that can lead to repeated unhealthy behaviors.
Individuals can also gain coping skills for emotions or feelings that they struggle with. When an individual learns how to effectively manage their emotions and feelings, in particular, negative emotions and feelings like depression and anxiety on their own, individuals can gain a sense of confidence in themselves that can spill into other areas of one’s life. When someone learns how to effectively manage their emotions in a healthy way, they become more present in their life. They are able to laugh and enjoy time with their loved ones. They can be present at work and more productive.
Many times, couples come to counseling because of a problem that they can’t fix, but counseling can also be an effective tool before problems arise. Couples can learn how to communicate in a health manner, leading to a healthier and more fulfilled relationship. Couples can gain skills that allows each individual to communicate their needs, learn how to get their needs met, and in turn lead to a healthier more fulfilled relationship. Couples can also gain skills to argue in an effective way. Arguing is a natural event in relationships but learning to argue in a way that promotes growth is a skill that couples can obtain through counseling.
Counseling is an effective way to improve you as an individual or an effective activity couples can engage in to make their relationship stronger and more rewarding. Learning to think of counseling as activity to improve your overall health is an effective way of breaking the negative stigma counseling has. Counseling and therapy is no longer for individuals with something “wrong” but an activity that helps promote a healthy lifestyle just like going to the gym or going to the doctor for a yearly checkup.