Do I Need Counseling?

As a counselor, one of the most frequently asked questions from my friends is

“Do I Need Counseling?”

They realize that there are areas in their lives which needed CHANGE, while they might be feeling STUCK personally, relationally, occupationally, etc. Sometimes, they are afraid of the idea of CHANGE, but they feel helpless. There is nobody in their lives to whom they feel safe to talk. Although there are many different types of counseling, I have summed up 3 factors which might help determine whether counseling is for you.

To Attach and Detach from Feelings with Safety {Confidentiality}

Feeling your feelings can be so uncomfortable (at least for most people, it is). Allowing yourself to cry, to fear, to be angry can be a very exhausting and scary place to be. However, knowing that you are scheduled, say once a week, to deal with those emotions with confidentiality, you can leave your burden at that office and face your “reality” again refreshed. Clients, sometimes, reported that they look forward to that once-a-week-emotional-dumping and restart their week because they feel they have more control over their emotions as opposed to feeling controlled by their emotions. They also are not afraid of how others might change how they view them professionally and relationally.

Counseling allows you to feel safe to feel your feelings and detach from it with safety. Nobody likes feeling weak or vulnerable, but it is such a crucial step to healing. Moorie Schwartz (from the best seller book, Tuesday with Moorie) commented much about this phenomenon weeks before his death.

“Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you’re able to leave it.”

“If you hold back on your emotions- if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them- you can never get to being detached. You’re too busy being afraid…”

“But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. Yow know what pain is, you know what love is, you know what grief is, and only then you can say, ‘Alright. I have experienced the emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.”

Processing Information Verbally and Non-Verbally

According to Neuropsychiatrists, Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Bryson, storytelling (Left brain activities for words and reasoning) is helpful to calm emotional storms and bodily sensation. Verbalizing your thoughts and emotions to safe and empathic listeners can be so cathartic (as opposed to “some buddy” who did not earn your right to see you be vulnerable)! While “talk therapy” still seems to be the mainstream modality of counseling, there are, indeed, many types of counseling which rely on non-verbal processing, such as EMDR, Neurofeedback, Art Therapy, Play-therapy, etc. However, most importantly, so many of my clients see the changes in their lives OUTSIDE of the counseling room because they continue to process the insights non-verbally, sometimes through actions as a result of counseling.

To Know Yourself and To Be Known

Through knowing yourself and to be known, you feel connected. Receiving compassion and connection are basic human needs. There are many research studies in Developmental Psychology and Neuroscience to demonstrate that connection is a basic human need, arguably more important than food (Check out Harlow’s Experiment here). The Still Face Experiment below is one of many to illustrate how we, human beings, yearn for connection.

People who are emotionally isolated for an extended period of time might be more prone to depression or suicidal ideation, even if they have been surrounded by people physically in a busy city. I am not sure since when, but having a strong social support group becomes such a luxury in our society. Counseling provides a safe, confidential, consistent and supportive environment for you to learn more about yourself, your relationships and to connect with someone who is trained about cognition, behaviors and emotions.

I do not believe that everybody needs counseling ALL OF THE TIME. However, there might be seasons of a persons’ life where counseling can be very beneficial. If you have more questions about counseling, you can leave a comment or send me a private message about it here.