Why choose counseling as a means to better your life?

As a licensed mental health practitioner, I often am faced with answering questions that I never thought I’d ever hear…

“What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?” (See point 1.)

“Isn’t it depressing to hear such negative things all the time?” (See point 2.)

“Don’t you have to be really sick to have to go to counseling?” (I’ll answer this one here… nope. You can simply be having a hard time coping with life stressors… you don’t even have to have a clinical diagnosis to walk through my doors… ).

“Are some people just beyond help?” (See point 3.)

… and my (not so) favorite…

“Why would someone pay someone else to tell them what they want to hear? Don’t they have friends to do that?” (See point 4.)

And my favorite myth: “It’s too expensive…” (See point 5.)

Below, you’ll find 5 reasons to choose counseling as a catalyst for positive change in your life.

1.) The first reason is that a good therapist is objective and confidential. This means that the answer to the first question goes unanswered when people ask us. In other words, a therapist who follows HIPAA and other privacy laws will not ever disclose your story or anybody else’s. We look at the difficulties brought to us from a professional, clinical, and solution-focused view and help our clients to come up with their own means of problem solving. While there are some fascinating things about brain health and behaviors, generally, the most interesting thing about my job is seeing all the different ways that my clients are resilient. I think the reason that people ask me to disclose such confidential things (repeat: I never would) is because they see counselors on TV write things down, keep them secret from clients, and (illegally) tell the world all about what that client said… This is not how it is in real life. (For more on how a real therapist is different than the TV and Movie therapists, see this post).

2.) Related to resilience, contrary to popular belief, providing a safe and confidential environment for people to improve their lives is far from depressing (See what I did there? I don’t listen to depressing things all day… I watch growth every day) . I consider myself to be one of the lucky few who were called to help others. Daily, I get to see people fill their own lives with hope and joy. This is especially rewarding because people choose to include me in their journey of self-empowerment. Now, that’s not to say that my office is filled with sunshine, rainbows, and ice cream (though it is filled with coffee and comfortable seating, so that’s a plus), but more so, my office is filled with people who often come to me during their darkest times and let me walk with them until they find their own contentment, hope, peace, and happiness. It’s a process. And those who seek out therapy are some of the bravest people I have ever encountered for being up for that challenge. Nothing depressing about that, in my humble opinion.

3.) Nobody is beyond hope. Read that again.

Nobody.

Is.

Beyond.

HOPE.

I’ve come to a point in my career where I am aware of my competencies and aware of when it is best to refer my client to other specialists in the field. I am a firm believer in allowing a client to choose the path and people who will surround them to help alleviate their mental health symptoms. What that means is that some of my clients come to therapy and that is the entire boost that they need. Many people come to therapy and allow me to collaborate with their physician, psychiatrist, neurologist, and other healthcare professionals in order to put their best treatment plan into place (this is called “collaborative care”). The point is, everybody’s needs are different when it comes to emotional health. Some people’s journeys take a lot more time. However, when somebody reaches out to me (or anybody else in their life) for help to overcome their difficulties, that ability to reach out is derived from hope. And with that hope, we can work together to build more hope and from that hope, I see my clients begin to grow and thrive in their journeys.

4.) Why go to a therapist instead of a friend? My answer: why not go to both? Nobody has to limit who they problem solve with. In fact, the more a person is networked with healthy and supportive friends and family, the more a person can grow and succeed. That said, there are some things that many of us want to keep private. And there are some times when we know that what we want to hear is not always the same as what we need to hear. Above, I talked about confidentiality and objectivity being one of the major appeals of therapeutic services. Sometimes, the purpose of a therapist is to validate one’s thoughts and actions while other times it is our job to challenge one’s thoughts and actions. Our specialized training helps us to do so in a genuinely judgment-free and empowering fashion. (For more, please see my post about the difference between a friend and a therapist, here).

5.) Most major insurance plans now cover mental health services. Not long ago, only the rich and famous were found in therapy offices. But with psychology being more integrated into the medical community, insurance companies have grasped on to the evidence that emotional health and physical health are positively correlated. Meaning, when people’s mental health improve, often times their physical health will improve as well. So, it is cost-effective for insurance to include professional counseling as part of the benefits (which, in turn, makes it cost-effective for people to go). For a list of the insurance companies I currently accept, please visit my FAQ’s page, here.