Footnotes From The Front Porch

Why See A Counselor?

I have noticed that when I share my journey with others about counseling, there is a typical response and it goes like this.  “That is good for you but not for me.”

I have also noticed that there is this false belief that people of faith should be able to resolve their issues on their own, “just me and God.”  There are also those who believe that talking with a counselor is as good as talking with a friend.

This is not necessarily true. It is time for us as a society to come to grips with the fact that our mental health is as important as our physical health.  A counselor can be a valuable resource when you are trying to make sense of mental, emotional or relational difficulties.

Mental health is integral to physical health: it is impossible to separate our physical selves from our mental and emotional selves. The healthier you are mentally and emotionally, the more likely you are to recover from or cope with physical problems.

A counselor is less biased than your friends and family members.  The problems with seeking advice from friends and family members is that they are often personally invested at some level in your behavior and the decisions you make. They may suggest you make choices that make them more comfortable, regardless of whether those are the best choices for you.

Once you enter into therapy, a positive, trusting therapeutic relationship with the counselor must be developed in order for the process to help you. But the counselor has a responsibility to prevent his/her own interests from interfering with yours.

Here is the good news.  Counseling does not last forever. Typically a client meets with the therapist once a week for a little less than an hour, although any mutually agreed-upon schedule is possible. Once your therapist has talked with you enough to gather a relatively complete personal history and has determined with you the goals for your therapy, he or she should be able to give you a sense of whether you can expect the process to take weeks, months, or in some cases, years. But the counselor has some therapeutic tools or strategies that can help you achieve positive results in less time than you might expect.

Any good counselor will always be aiming at maintaining or increasing your level of autonomy (your ability to make your own decisions and take responsibility for your own actions). It would be unethical for any counselor to try to manipulate or control you. You set your own goals (in consultation with the therapist), you have the right to refuse any particular strategy or activity that the counselor might propose, to seek a second opinion at any time, and to end counseling whenever you please. However, it is advisable to talk to the counselor about any of these decisions before making them.

A counselor can help you find the resources you need to resolve your problems. A counselor is aware of community resources that may help you reach your goals. He/she may also be able to help you become more aware of and more able to effectively use your own internal and external strengths and resources. These may include, among other things, your own personality traits, skills, spirituality and values as well as supportive friends, family members and groups you belong to. 

Most importantly, licensed and/or Certified Counselors are well trained. Check the credentials of your prospective counselor. 

Proverbs 12:15 Seek Wise Counsel....

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