My first experience with counseling was not pleasant. I was about 15, and due to a long string of personal and family issues, I was required to attend therapy. I dreaded going each week. It was awkward, uncomfortable, and I did a LOT of faking that I was okay just so I wouldn’t have to keep going.
There were two reasons I hated it so much:
- I had absolutely NO connection with my counselor. He was nice, but we just didn’t click.
- I didn’t choose to go. Being forced to go is a very different situation, and it didn’t make me want to open at all because it wasn’t on my terms.
Finally, eight years later, when my mental health was on a downward spiral, I made the decision to find a counselor and begin to work through my issues. Finding a counselor I was able to connect to and speak with willingly, made me want to open up about every single aspect of my life and find a way to fix it all immediately. It helped me feel hopeful and excited.
Counseling opened up my eyes
Counseling took me to the roots of my mental health issues. Finding where they stem from is the first step, then you can move on to fixing it from the bottom up.
Counseling made me realize how I really felt
I was assigned homework during one of my sessions, and it was to go home and write a letter to a specific person from my past that led to a lot of my mental health problems. Doing a homework assignment like this actually revealed my true emotions, and we were able to focus more deeply on that, rather than the emotions I had used to cover them up for so many years. It was crazy to me that I never even realized that I had done that.
Counseling taught me techniques for handling my anxiety
I owe counseling for the fact that my panic attacks have lessened dramatically! My counselor taught me deep breathing techniques and mantras that help me keep my emotions under control. If you read my recaps, you know that I do a lot of deep breathing when I’m feeling anxious!
Counseling encouraged me to help others
Because of my experience with counseling and the difference it made in my life, it actually encouraged me to finally choose, once and for all, what I’d like to get my degree in; psychology! I’m in the process of going back to my local community college to complete my prereqs, and then I plan to transfer to Wayne State University in Detroit to get my bachelors and my masters degree (eventually) in psychology. My ultimate goal is to gain as much knowledge as possible on the topic of mental health and help others the way that counseling has helped me.
With that being said, counseling just isn’t for some people. It doesn’t matter how good of a counselor you find, or how well you connect, some people just don’t grow and conquer their problems in this way, and that’s okay. But, I do believe in giving it a try and seeing if it’s for you. If not, find something else, but if you discover that it is, it can open up a whole new world for you and help you find the type of freedom you may never have felt before. I know it helped me find mine.
That’s not to say that counseling is going to magically cure any mental health you have like a magic potion. It won’t, but it is an insanely important ingredient! I still suffer from depression and anxiety, and that may never change, but counseling (along with a lot of very hard work) gave me the tools I needed to manage these disorders in a healthy way, and that in itself has made my life that much easier!
Have you ever gone to counseling?
What was your experience like?