But there are still some who don’t quite understand exactly HOW talking with someone can help you through your problems. After all, can’t they just “get over it on their own?”
HOW Counseling Works
Counseling involves more than just talking to someone.
The following is a list of the other elements that are part of a therapeutic relationship. When all of these things are put together, people get better faster.
1. No Matter How Disturbing The Subject, The Counselor Will Still Be Engaged
When you share uncomfortable information with friends or family, their natural reaction may be to withdraw or run away. A counselor is able to stay in the room, physically, emotionally, relationally, and personally—even in the midst of difficult topics.
2. A Counselor Will Not Judge
A counselor won’t shame or judge your actions. He or she is there to help you understand how you got into this situation, why you made the decisions you made, and the best way to make things right.
3. A Counselor Has Empathy, Insight, Understanding, And Acceptance
A counselor does more than blindly listen. He or she has the desire and ability to hurt with you without getting lost in that hurt. That’s called empathy.
In the midst of that empathy, they will have tools and ideas to help you navigate through some of the difficult situations you find yourself in.
Your counselor knows how to listen with understanding. They get all the information first (or as much as possible) so they have a complete picture of the situation.
Since a counselor can not change the past, they will help you learn how to accept the situation as it is, accept yourself unconditionally, and accept the next steps in the process.
4. Counselors Give You The Opportunity To Speak The Unspeakable
Sometimes, things that are so difficult to talk about that you carry them around for years. They weigh on you, causing emotional, relational, and physical problems. When you reach the point where you can no longer carry the secret, a counselor will be able to listen to your story and help you figure out what to do.
5. Counselors Provide A Safe Environment To Be A Mess
Looking at the heavy stuff in your life can be messy.
Because the counseling relationships is confidential and protected, you can stop worrying about how you look or who will see you. You are protected, sheltered, and cared for as you start to experience the appropriate emotions that come along with difficult situations.
6. A Counselor Can Be Safely Be Used As A Transference Object Without Counter-Transference Getting In The Way
Transference is when a client has strong feelings towards their counselor.
Counter-Transference is when the counselor has strong feelings towards their client.
When you were a child, you were told that what you had to say was stupid and unimportant. You quickly learned not to speak your mind or share anything you were thinking about.
When you get into counseling, and the counselor ask you, “So, what do you think?” you will probably experience the same feelings of fear that you felt as a child. You will treat the counselor the same way you treated the adults in your life. You may withdraw or lash out against the counselor.
Because the counselor is trained, he or she will be aware of his own reactions (counter-transference) to your reaction (transference) and choose a healthy response. It is this healthy response which starts to challenge your belief systems and shows you that you have different options on how to interact with your world. If the counselor wasn’t aware of their own reactions, and reacted in the same way that the hurtful adults in your life reacted, they would be reinforcing the negative experience and not being able to provide adequate help in your growth process.
Finding A Good Counselor
It’s not always easy finding someone you click with. This is some of the important characteristics you should look for in a quality counselor.
Take your time, find someone you feel safe with, and then start to do the work. You’ll find out for yourself just how valuable counseling can truly be.