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EDUCATION - KEY TOPIC

Preparing for Change

Everyone Needs a Counselor: Appreciating the Value of Therapy

Counseling and therapy can be wonderful tools that help us explore how we want to experience more in life. In fact, one in four Americans have sought professional counseling. Most styles of counseling focus on re-understanding one’s past or present in a way that promotes healthier handling of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Therapy may directly link to an unhealthy behavior or context, or it may target seemingly unrelated root issues. Re-understanding ourselves and our past, present, and potential future can have a powerful impact on our day-to-day lives. Look for trust and connection in counseling relationships.

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There’s No Shame

Seeking help via counseling or therapy does not have to be a scary or intimidating process. One in four Americans have sought professional help from a counselor or therapist for issues in their life. Given that fact, it is statistically probable that each of us knows multiple people who have or currently are seeking a therapist. Counseling and therapy provide important opportunities to step into vulnerability and deeper connection with ourselves and others. Many of us may already be sharing aspects of our lives with a de facto counselor — a hairdresser, bartender, coach, or someone else. Involving someone with professional experience can increase the benefit to us. Whether it’s for depression, an eating disorder, an addiction, or other mental health challenge, seeing a counselor or therapist is a great place to start.

Connection Is Crucial in Therapy

If you’ve tried counseling or therapy in the past, and there wasn’t a good connection — or if that happens in the future — keep looking for one with whom you can build trust, as that greatly magnifies the value of the experience. Try to complete multiple sessions before making a decision about the fit, as it can take time for trust to grow. Establishing a trusted connection with a therapist or counselor can also be helpful in navigating additional steps around seeking help, such as finding a treatment center.

Like treatment centers, counseling methods and therapy types vary greatly in their style, methodology, and delivery. At the core of most, however, is a focus on re-understanding our pasts and present in a way that brings healthier, life-giving experiences. Often times it may seem that a current problem or challenge we face is an isolated incident — it’s just an area of our lives, our minds, our hearts, that needs to be addressed. But the truth is that what we have experienced throughout life, and particularly in our childhood, can profoundly impact how we see and experience ourselves, our relationships, and our world. For instance, research indicates that adverse childhood experiences are associated with lower-levels of satisfaction and mental well-being in adults. Childhood trauma does not have to involve a seemingly “major” event for it to profoundly shape our understandings of ourselves and the world. Disconnection or emotional distance during crucial developmental times can have a lasting  impact.

Navigating Past, Present, and Future

The goal of most types of counseling is not primarily to go back to the past to identify sources of blame or justify current behavior. Rather, counseling provides great information on how the past and present may be affecting one’s experience of life, and areas where new perspectives and understanding can provide opportunities for healing and fruitfulness. Having a trusted, trained professional to provide an outside perspective is important because of how skewed our own understanding may be. Blame and bitterness are not helpful tools, but looking back or around with a professional help can help unlock forgiveness and the ability to move forward. This is not to deny the loss that may have occurred, but to halt the ability of that past experience or loss from continuing to rob one of their full experience of life.

Different Forms of Therapy

There are many therapy approaches, and each of us may find some modalities work better for us than others. Some blend spirituality or faith into their practice, while most do not. This is not a comprehensive list of therapy practices or methodologies, but a high-level overview of some of the leading approaches.

Worried about finding counseling resources that you can afford? There are a range of new models for delivery of counseling resources, starting with more lightweight options, and deepening into other types. Check out OneStep’s Connection tab focused on counselors or therapists to find one in your area. Additionally, if you have insurance, counseling may be covered already.

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