Most people attempt to solve their problems by themselves. They sometimes seek the assistance of family and/or friends. But that may not be enough for some people at some times. So they seek counseling (also called psychotherapy).
The following is what YOU could expect if YOU chose to seek counseling for solving problems.
1. Relief by getting things off your chest.
You may have heard the words “venting” that therapists use. What it means is reducing unpleasant feelings like anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. by putting into words the problems that exist for you. It is different from “bitching” or complaining or whining because it is with someone with skills to help you through it.
An example would be a client coming into my office stating that he has been feeling nervous and sleepless. In talking about his job he explains that he feels left out by his co-workers but has been trying to ignore it saying to himself, “I’m here to work, not to make friends.” As he goes on speaking he realizes that this in not the first time he has tried to overlook others’ attitudes toward him and sees patterns so begins to relax just because someone is listening to him and supporting his views and creating a learning experience for him. Others to whom he had told these things had given him advice or minimized the feelings saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Being REALLY listened to has a powerful effect.
2. Problem solving by “thinking out loud.”
It’s amazing how differently we look at difficulties in our life when we allow ourselves to explore them without concern about being judged. In a counseling session people should feel free to say anything that comes to mind. In so doing options can be considered and creative thinking can take place. New ideas for problem-solving come out of this which makes our situations more manageable. We feel more empowered and hopeful.
3. Finding the motivation to make changes that will make you feel better.
Often it isn’t enough to simply talk about what is bothering you. Taking action is the only way to make some of these bad feelings stop recurring. Change may be difficult but often it is far less difficult than we expect — especially with the support of a caring therapist.
Some of my clients find the courage to speak up to parents, partners, children and friends. They discover that, rather than the anticipated negative outcome that had kept them from saying certain things (maybe for many, many years) true, lasting solutions can result. Even if there is absolutely no positive outcome pertaining to the relationship the person who speaks up feels a weight lifted off herself/himself.
Other types of changes are made by some clients. Some change big, basic areas of their lives such as making career decisions or finding the strength to get out of an abusive relationship and find a healthier way to live.
Some of my clients have made what may seem to us to be smaller modifications in their worlds but these modifications have been ones they had not, up until then, found the courage or drive or wherewithal to implement. Many learned new ways to communicate or listen or resolve conflicts more amicably with their romantic partners. Many began to see themselves as more worthy and, consequently, began to take better care of themselves. Many did things to minimize the power a past trauma held over their lives. In other words they did things that helped them to feel better (and, very often, to have more energy to put toward other areas of their lives).
Therapy is another way of learning. Therapists are like teachers but we teach by helping clients to look within themselves and learn from themselves that most of what they need to improve their lives is already inside their heads, hearts and spirits.
I know there is a fear out there of our profession. The fear, whether people know it or not, is that what one finds during a therapy session will be something bad inside that person. Ask anyone who has had successful therapy (and most is successful). They will tell you that it was an experience that they wouldn’t have missed for the world. I have often heard, “I feel blessed that I had a drug problem (or a marital problem or a problem with depression) that caused me to attend therapy. It was an opportunity to feel good in a way I couldn’t have otherwise.”