What is Counseling?

What is Counseling?

Our culture has a lot of off-base ideas about counseling and psychotherapy. Our media (tv shows, movies, music, etc.) constantly portray some pretty inaccurate ideas about this.  Movies, tv shows, etc. show therapy in ways which are most exciting, ways which get ratings, but not usually in ways that are accurate.  Some common myths about counseling and psychotherapy are:
  • It’s for people who are “nuts” or “out of their minds.”
  • If you’re strong enough you’ll figure it out yourself.  ”Weak” people go to counseling.
  • They’re going to judge me.
  • Counselors are just nosey.
  • It’s going to involve someone telling me how to live my life.
So what is it, then?

In reality, counseling and psychotherapy helps through the experience of interacting with a trained professional to either deal with problems, increase performance, or both.

  • It provides support during times of increased stress, such as illness of a loved one, changing jobs, grief and loss.
  • It offers a way to gain perspective and insight about your emotions, relationships and all kinds of behaviors.
  • It helps identify patterns of thinking and feeling which affect relationships, work, school, behavior and performance.
  • It helps identify the many forms of anxiety, depression and anger and helps alleviate them.
  • It provides ways to build healthy relationships.
  • It helps develop communication skills for dealing with conflict.
  • It provides means for self-improvement and maximizing potential.
  • It identifies ways to change things that are not working in your life.
  • It builds motivation to change for those who want to change, but can’t seem to actually do it.
  • It is a means for addressing pain, working through loss and adding meaning to life.
  • It provides a map to trusting yourself, identifying what you want and creating the life you want.

Often I hear the following questions:

“So what am I supposed to talk about?”

You can talk about anything; whatever you’d like.  Many times people will have a specific problem they are trying to resolve, so they talk about that. Sometimes people want to learn about relationships, communication, or want to improve performance.  Sometimes people don’t have a specific problem but know they are generally looking for a change.  Other times people are struggling with loss, depression, anxiety or the effects of traumatic experiences.  I’m trained to know what questions to ask, so you don’t need to worry about this.  I always approach my clients with respect and no judgement.  Whatever you want to talk about is going to be ok and you never have to discuss something you don’t want to. If you’re not sure exactly what your goals are or what you’re looking for, we can discuss it in our first meeting.

“How long is this going to take, anyway?”

The short answer to the question is that it really depends.  The goals and plan of therapy will be made together, and in the end, unless they are infringing on the rights of others, they are completely up to you.  Therefore, the length of time depends a lot on what is needed to achieve your goals. Psychotherapy is most effective when people start on their own and have a strong desire to change.

“What if I hate it?” 

If you hate it, you can stop coming. Unless you’re mandated into counseling, no one will force you to continue if you do not think it is helpful for you.  It is within your rights to terminate treatment.  I’ll talk to you about your rights and obligations when we first meet.

“Alright, I’ll try it.  Now what?”

Give me a call at 61-SHINE-009 (617-446-3009) to have a free, brief phone consultation.