What is counseling?
Counseling, sometimes called therapy, is a service that is offered to help a person, family, or couple talk through a problem, understand the depths of it, heal from hurt, and develop new patterns of behavior that can bring about a healthier outcome. Therapy usually focuses on why did something happen in order to figure out how to move forward. Exploring healthier thoughts, feelings, and beliefs is an important part of therapy and will serve to bring about better outcomes.
Counseling can be provided in a group setting too. The majority of therapy is provided by an individual counselor, but co-counseling is possible and may even bring better results due to the team aspect, although it might be more expensive.
What types of counseling are there?
Counseling can be provided for individuals, families, and couples for a variety of problems. Trauma, grief, mental health concerns, relationship concerns, and many other issues can be helped through therapy.
The types of counseling you might find are group counseling, sex therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, anger management, trauma therapy, counseling for mental health diagnoses, and more.
What are the benefits of counseling?
In therapy, you find a safe place to explore your life and struggles. This is hard to do outside of therapy unless you have someone who is non-judgemental to talk to. You also will find that you resolve problems quicker because you are actually taking the time to focus on a specific issue. How often do you take the time on your own to explore a specific problem you are facing?
Therapy can also be beneficial because you can find ideas and solutions you would not have normally thought of on your own. Also, you will have an advocate. Your therapist is trained in finding the root of a problem without judgment and bias.
10 important benefits of therapy
- Opportunity for self-exploration and improvement
- Support and Validation in struggles and goals
- Help with decreasing self-defeating behavior
- Improved understanding of personal emotions, thoughts, and beliefs
- A safe place to vent or open up about problems
- Gaining hope, motivation, and encouragement
- Learning effective life and relationship skills
- Decreased mental health symptoms
- Improvement of relationships
- Increased confidence and self-esteem
What are the misconceptions about counseling?
If I ask for help, then I will be seen as weak.
Have you ever asked for help in anything in your life other than this? We ask for help all the time. What’s the difference? You are not weak. You are just human. We all need help at times and counseling is only one form of help in the world. We need each other to improve and grow. Don’t let fear of being seen as weak stop you from getting the help you need to overcome something quickly. Fear is a weakness. When you fear being seen as weak, you probably are already weak. Therapy can help you quickly meet goals and get unstuck so you can be strong.
I don’t believe others understand me and so I am alone in this. What’s the point?
We all are more similar than you think. Although we all have problems, they are usually small variations of what everyone else is going through. There are many books of wisdom that speak to the fact that nothing is new under the sun. Don’t lie to yourself that you are special. You are in some ways, but maybe you need to give other people a chance to see if they can understand you instead of the crowd you hang around and don’t talk to about your problems.
I’m not trying hard enough. If I just put more effort into it, I will overcome it.
Really? That doesn’t always work. You don’t know what you don’t know! Maybe seeking therapy can get you there faster or get you unstuck. It’s a game of what would you rather. Would you rather stay stuck for a while because you don’t have the tools, skills, or knowledge? Or would you rather overcome the problem so you can move forward this year rather than wait 5 years?
If I am suicidal. Will I be sent to the hospital?
The answer is: not likely! That’s a misperception. We want you to be safe. However, we need to do a thorough assessment first. Usually seeing that someone cares helps a lot. Getting a different perspective helps too. Both of which counselors are good at. Once the assessment is done, you might be asked to fill out a suicide contract that has plans for what to do in case you feel unsafe by yourself. Or we will ask you to go be with someone who can watch you while you recover. There is more to this, but for now, that should help you stop this false thought.
I can’t pay that much. My finances are tight.
I am going to call you out on this one. If you knew that counseling could fix whatever your problem is, would you go? Would you pay whatever it cost? I think you would. You being successful is important to you. Having a great relationship is important to you. Where are your priorities? We spend our money on things that are important to us. This is just a fact!
Do you have your priorities out of order? Is that coffee, burger, car, or something else, really more important? Can you put off buying a few items or not watching your shows for long enough to get something that will really make a difference in your life? I think the question for you is, are you being real with yourself, and what’s most important? You will pay for the things that matter most to you. Therapy helps with the most important things in life, at least from my experience.
Therapy seems to be just 2 people talking. I can talk with friends and get the same result.
Yes, in the counseling office, we talk, a lot. However, there is a big difference between you talking to your friends or family, and a therapist. A therapist can be absolutely neutral and help you dig deeper to find the root of the issue you are struggling with. Friends usually take sides and push you to be upset about your situation. Therapists validate your experience but don’t take sides. We stay open-minded about the possibilities. Every now and then you will find a friend who can do this. That is what we want for you.
Therapy also is not just talking. We do educate, practice skills, and help you see your situation better. A friend is not usually trained in helping you with these things.
What services are available?
Brandon Coussens, LMFT
- Address3540 Wheeler Rd., Ste. 110
Augusta, GA 30909