Though she could scarcely believe it, Jenny found herself at the same place again. Her relationship ended abruptly, with the promise from her departing partner that the decision was “not about you.” But because this was the fourth straight romantic relationship in the past five years that had ended this way, it hardly seemed like it could be true. Or even if it was, why did she keep dating people who were likely to call it quits?
Everett and Monica were leaders in their community and loved to laugh. Their impressive presentation and infectious spirit often caught the attention of their single friends, who regularly confessed how much they admired their relationship, and that it gave them hope that they too could one day find their “soulmate.” And while Everett and Monica did believe they were meant for one another, all the admiration and praise lead to both of them feeling a bit isolated. The truth was that, like most couples, they had their share of problems — communication issues, work-life balance, and baggage carried over from their childhoods. They both reasoned that their experience was “normal,” but they still needed someone to process all of this with.
Rupert was a remarkable person to be around. He was winsome, good-looking, intelligent, and fun. People were often surprised to learn that at 25 years-old, he was working as a baggage handler in the small airport where he grew up. Rupert was actually very satisfied with the physical nature of his work, and was certain some of the reason people were surprised was because they value a certain path in life that he didn’t — high school, college, 9 to 5. However, while he didn’t value that route, he did grow tired of having to explain things all the time, and the constant questioning did make him wonder whether he was on the right track. Even his parents, as much as they loved him, constantly referred to him as “still determining what he’d like to do for a real job.” And perhaps most importantly, Rupert did sense that the low wages and lack of benefits was probably something that would come back to haunt him individually. He began asking himself what he’d like to do if he did eventually move on.
Most people considering counseling in the St. Louis area have a number of questions at the outset, and feel a bit of apprehension. After all, you need to find a counselor that a) you like, b) has some experience in your area of struggle, c) you can afford, and d) is in your area or one you’re willing to drive to. These are deeply personal needs and specific to the person who is looking for them. For example, a single person suffering from anxiety on a fixed income looking for counselors in St. Louis County will have a different set of needs in this regard than a married person looking for help adjusting to life transitions looking for counselors in St. Louis city.
But once you get these basic issues tackled, I find that many of my new clients still have an awful lot of apprehension about counseling itself. The line of thinking goes something like this: “Okay, I know I have some problems, and I know I’m really struggling right now, but really…counseling?! I’m not sure this is really what I need, and even if it is, I’m not sure it’s going to work.”
That in mind, here are three good reasons to pursue counseling that may ease some of your fears.
1. Getting counseling isn’t just for “crazy” people. In 2015, the stigma associated with mental health, counseling, and psychiatric services in St. Louis is less than ever before. Whereas our parents or our parents’ parents may have thought getting counseling was a sign of “weakness,” most reasonable people these days can assent to the notion that its perfectly understandable to need help from time to time. And actually, the wisdom of the ages attests to this notion in that the origins of the term “counselor” actually tend to refer to advising, consulting, devising, guiding, or purposing, and prior to this psychological age, most often in the context of advising kings or rulers in political or strategic matters. This is no doubt where the phrase, “There is wisdom in many counselors” originates. So, in a manner of speaking, counseling is actually an undertaking employed by people wise enough to know they don’t have all the answers!
2. Confidentiality is a biggie! Even when people are convinced that counseling is a good idea, they are often apprehensive about being “found out.” They reason that while they themselves may understand that counseling is beneficial, some others may not. They worry that colleagues, bosses, church members, or family and friends may find out they’re going to counseling and make some judgments about them as a result. I understand. The good news here is that of the many ethical and legal standards counseling as an industry prizes, confidentiality in counseling is chief among them all. With very few exceptions (such as if a counselor believes you or someone else is in imminent danger), counselors retain all of your information and never release it to anyone. What’s more, Change, Inc. St. Louis counselors have appointments during the day and the evening, so you can schedule counseling sessions when it’s most convenient and unobtrusive (read: least likely to be noticed by anyone in your life).
3. Investigating your options costs very little. At the end of the day, any person looking for counseling I meet with always wants to know, “Will this work for me?” The truth is, we have no crystal balls, magic wands, or otherwise mystical powers to unlock the secrets of your life. But we are trained at listening, reflecting what we hear, and in specific techniques for a variety of struggles like depression, marriage struggles, and addictions, just to name a few.
And here’s an analogy that will make you feel better: When you’re at a job you don’t like and know something needs to change, you lose very little but some time and energy by getting your resume ready, updating your LinkedIn profile, and investigating your options. And if you decide to pursue a new job, if you don’t like it, you can always go back to the drawing board. The same is true with counseling. When life isn’t going the way you want, the absolute worst-case scenario is that you strike out with a counselor or two before finding one that’s a good fit. In short, it’s incredibly unlikely that you end up in a worse position for your efforts, and in fact, you’re likely to end up benefiting. Even if you don’t, you can always go back to the drawing board!
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