By Caitlin Winkler, PLPC
What are your thoughts and opinions on counseling? Are you picturing someone lying on a couch and a counselor sitting behind them with a notepad asking, "And how did you feel about that?" And what do clients and counselors talk about? Just their childhood, right, and unconscious motives?
There seems to be so much mystery that surrounds the counseling world. Perhaps this is due in part to the very nature of counseling - focusing on the mind, which is something we cannot physically see and we may not immediately notice the change taking place. Not knowing or understanding the process of counseling adds to the mystification (more on this in a future blog).
When people do not learn how to ask for help or admit they need help, they bottle up feelings of anxiety, shame, helplessness, and can't seem to find hope. Often, people will turn to alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships, become workaholics, never take risks, or use other things to ignore or combat the struggle. It is okay to ask for help and admit we are not perfect. This is where counseling comes in.
Somewhere along the way a stigma has been attached. People fear coming to counseling, struggle to say they need help, or are even embarrassed. It can also cause you to question yourself. I have worked with many kids who really struggle with this. They may think, "My friends are not in counseling, so what is wrong with me?" I try to remind them people have different struggles and need different tools to help them be successful. Counseling is not a permanent, life-long commitment. In many cases, therapy is necessary just for a season in someone's life. I have noticed that everyone, at some point or another, could use the objective, extra support that counseling provides.
You can start combating the counseling stigma now and change your life. And besides, who decided admitting you don't have it all together is such a negative thing? If you are human, you don't have it all together. When you own your weakness, your struggle, and your past because it is what makes you who you are. Use it to build a better future!
Caitlin Winkler is a Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor at Unlimited Potential Counseling & Education Center in O’Fallon. Caitlin is under the clinical supervision of Emily Kircher-Morris, LPC (MO #2012026754).