Regarding the team part — get in line.
Regarding the counseling part – if you truly are depressed or anxious; stressed out about life, work, family, school; having problems with your relationships; or even if you just have a sense of dissatisfaction with your life and can’t figure out why, there is a lot counseling can do for you.
But first you have to make the call.
Then you have to walk through the door.
For some folks this is easy, but for a fair few it seems inconceivable to imagine themselves picking up the phone and asking a perfect stranger for help. This can be hard if you know what the process will look like, but for those of you out there who have no idea, or who have gotten your ideas of what therapy might look like from the Sopranos, this blog is for you.
The counseling relationship is unique in that it is a very close relationship, even an intimate one, but it has a very carefully constructed set of boundaries. These boundaries protect the client and ensure that the time therapist and client spend together is purposeful and therapeutic.
Here are a few characteristics of a therapeutic relationship that might help the more skittish of you understand why and how counseling can be helpful to you.
Counseling is completely confidential. Your therapist must abide by a set of regulations that govern how they protect your confidentiality. For instance, if you are in counseling with a therapist and a family member or friend calls that therapist to talk to them about you, the therapist cannot even acknowledge that they know you. They certainly will not discuss your case, by law, with anyone, including your doctor, your wife, or the Pope, without your written consent. Now, having said that, if you tell your therapist you are about to harm yourself or someone else, in the interest of safety, they are required to blow the whistle, but apart from that, your secrets are safe.
Counseling is a relationship of trust. Your therapist should be someone you feel safe with and who you trust completely. If you don’t feel secure with your therapist, find a new one. Not all therapists and clients are a good “fit,” and it is perfectly fine, and important, for you to talk to several therapists before you choose the right one to do your work.
Counseling is a relationship with a purpose. The entertainment industry has done a good job of giving people the mistaken impression that therapy generally entails clients languishing for years at a time in their therapist’s office, whining indulgently and generally going nowhere. In reality, who has the time for that? Not to mention the money. Therapy is meant to help you achieve a goal. That goal may be to heal from a broken relationship or a loss, to recover from a crippling depression or anxiety, or to figure out why you can’t keep a job because you keep getting fired for anger issues. Whatever it is that is troubling you, the goal of therapy is to resolve those issues and move you OUT of therapy.
The counseling relationship is one that really is, and should be, all about you. This is your space, your time, your person; all devoted in that 50 minute session to you and your needs. It is hard to find such a place in the world.
If you need counseling and have been afraid to make the move to find someone, think about having that very special and protected relationship with someone dedicated to helping you accomplish what you need to accomplish. The hardest part is making that first call. The best part is walking out the door of that final session knowing you have done what you needed to do to make your life better.
Chris Lewis, Ed.S., LPC is a therapist who specializes in Marriage and Family Therapy in Denver, CO. She provides individual, couples, and family therapy through Maria Droste Counseling Center.