How and When To See a Licensed Counselor

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’ve been in and out of professional therapy for the past 5 years.

It’s become a vital part of my own journey and truly has opened my eyes to a lot of things about myself and others. As my current therapist says, we’re all in some state of unhealthy – it’s part of the human experience! I’ve found that having a professional to run things by regarding parenting, marriage, life, etc., has been an invaluable tool. Just last week we were facing something with one of our kids and I was able to process it with her in a way that cleared the fog and it was enormously helpful.

Brene Brown says it this way:

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.

Don’t you love that?? So hard to do!! But such a game changer.

So if you’re ready to see a counselor, how do you start?

Well, referrals are awesome. If you have any friends who are open about their experience start there. Another great place to ask is your doctor or your church. Most faith based organizations have a list of counselors they refer to and you don’t have to attend the church to ask about it!

Then, just call them and make an appointment! Your counselor will most likely want to know your story. And this is the one time where talking about yourself endlessly is actually welcomed and encouraged;). If you feel comfortable and felt the time was well spent, make another appointment!

But also, don’t worry if the first one you meet with isn’t the one for you. Counselors are not one size fits all and you may have to kiss a few frogs before you find your counseling fit. For example, when we first moved here, I met with a woman 3 times and on our third visit I felt very judged and beat up. Not how I needed or wanted to feel. So I fired her. Actually, I just didn’t re-schedule and made up some lame excuse but we both knew what had happened. Yes, maybe when I’ve been in counseling longer I’ll be able to handle those things more maturely;).

So, how do you know if you should go?? Well, I think anybody can benefit from it, but particularly if you’re going through one of these things:

  • Major Life Change – a move, a big career transition, new marriage, new baby, etc.
  • Grief – if you’ve lost a loved one, counseling is fantastic to help you work through your grief. Grieving is a verb and it takes work.
  • Parenting Issues – I hear family counseling can do wonders but we’ve been unable to get our kids to go with us. That doesn’t keep us from using our counselor to help us work through parenting issues. Especially when we’re not on the same page, having an objective third person is amazing.
  • Career choices – a counselor can help you work through if and when it’s time to move on from a particular job or situation. Again, you may very well need someone objective and not your best friend because she always thinks you’re right and (spoiler alert) YOU’RE NOT
  • Marriage Issues – I say “issues” and not “problems” because the best time to find a marriage counselor you love is not when the problems have already started. Every marriage has issues and a counselor can help you with communication, decision making, stress management, you name it.
  • Stress and anxiety – these are big for me. I love that I can go in to her office and just lay it all out there and she helps me navigate through the “why”. She doesn’t solve – she guides. And then I can solve on my own.
  • Extended family issues – if your’e struggling with things from your family of origin or the family your married in to
  • Addiction – are you concerned about alcohol or drug use in yourself or someone you love? A counselor (especially one that specializes in addiction) can change your life and many times, help you save your life. Quite literally.

I could add many things to this list but this is a good start. Basically, all of us can benefit from a good, licensed counselor! It can get costly, but when you think of how important your mental health is, the money is very well spent. Also, check with your insurance and see if they cover some or all of the cost! Most counselors don’t file for you, but you can file insurance on your own. And I’m almost positive you can use your HSA to pay for it (someone please comment if I’m wrong on that – I’m not an HSA expert!).

Seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness – it’s actually a huge sign of strength. For me, it’s been a life line and helped me navigate through some tough things without hurting people. Which is key (I say this mostly joking, I don’t think I would ever hurt anyone. I’ll have to ask my counselor;).

So get out there and go to counseling! And then do me a huge favor? Tell people you’re going if you can get comfortable with that. We need to make it as normal as going to the dermatologist or the dentist. Because our minds are just as important as our skin and our teeth. Um, scratch that. They’re MORE important.

Blessings.

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