“Counselors just sit there and listen and take your money.”
“They can’t help me!”
“They don’t know anything about me!”
“I’m not telling someone I don’t know all my personal thoughts and feelings!”
Sound familiar? Maybe had some of these same thoughts yourself? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have. Although the stigma of going to counseling is starting to lift there are still many people who have these thoughts and feelings.
Many times I have people end up in my office knowing that they need help and yet they really aren’t sure if I can help them or if anyone really can. And sometimes this is even after seeing other counselors in the past.
So if this is something you have been wondering about, let me make it clear, counseling is not a waste of time. At least it’s not if you find the right counselor and you put effort into the process.
Like i said before, sometimes people have been to counseling and come away with the feeling that it was a waste of time. Just as in any field there are professionals with different levels of skills and with different ways of doing their job. I hear these complaints from clients about other therapists from time to time. Some are not necessarily right or wrong, but can be a difference in preference, where as others are just not norms for the profession. I’ve heard things from they just talked the whole time to they never talked to they just repeated everything I said. I’ve heard about experiences with counselors where the client felt good talking to the counselor but never walked away with actual skills to help themselves. Other times clients have told me that they felt judged or uncomfortable with their counselor or never felt that the counselor understood them. Other clients have felt that a counselor didn’t challenge them enough to see the problems that were right there or that they pushed them too hard without supporting them. It may be important to remember that the counselor closest to your house or work on your insurance panel may not be the best for you.
So how do you find someone that you can feel comfortable with and that is good at what they do? You can see about getting a referral from either a trusted professional such as your doctor, psychiatrist, or school counselor or you can ask friends and family if they know of anyone. It may be uncomfortable asking others but if you think about it you are sure to find someone that you can trust for a referral. You can also look online to see what the counselors online presence says about them. You may find that most counselors do not have a lot of reviews online. This is because most people don’t want to put their name on a review that can tell the whole world that they were in counseling. Instead you may need to read their bios and website to see how they work and what they talk about. You can also email or call them to talk for a few minutes to get a sense of who they are.
Once you find the right therapist, it is important to invest yourself in the process of change. You can work with the very best therapist in the world, but if you don’t put any work in then you won’t feel any different. They can help motivate you, but they cannot force you to do anything you don’t want to do. Know that sometimes you have to talk about things that are emotional, that there will be a lot of work for you to do outside of session, and that ultimately your change is your responsibility. You have to be willing to put the work in.