by Abeer Naseem
Why is it that for a second we tumble over the thought of visiting a counselor and try to resist the idea till the maximum? When sick, we hardly ever wait to consult a doctor.
Why is it that we associate weakness or fears with the name ‘psychologist’ or ‘counselor’? Part of the blame lies with counseling being a taboo in our society.
It is sad that such beliefs exist in this day and age. We need to accept that each one of us, in some way, is a victim. Like doctors, psychologists are there to help patients suffering from emotional injuries.
Some people need to seek advice from a professional without feeling a sense of shame and embarrassment but the question remains, how did counseling, which is harmless and helpful, become so hard to seek.
Humans are prone to problems, irrational fears, inability to cope with the trivial issues of life and falling prey to bad decisions.
This needs to be corrected as we need to learn skills and develop strategies to avoid harm to ourselves as much as we can.
Seeking counseling for matters that disturb the mind is nothing to be ashamed of, rather it should develop a sense of pride in us that we are sane enough to improve ourselves and rectify our cognitive errors.
So, is counseling of any use or is the terrifying perception about it embedded in our minds?
First and foremost, one needs to feel blessed for having developed the insight, to be aware of the problems that lie ahead and the realization that they cannot manage them individually.
In these circumstances, seeking help from a professional, for expert advice on crucial and sensitive matters, should not be a sign of weakness but in fact the opposite.
Secondly, the question is, can you actually benefit from seeking counseling? The answer lies in the question; anyone working with a trained professional to assist them through a difficult time or challenging circumstances will benefit in one way or the other.
Nearly two thirds of the people will at some specific time in our life, consult someone in the field of mental health. Many hesitate or avoid consultation out of fear of being perceived as weak or crazy.
It is important that we increase our knowledge about how counseling can be beneficial for us and for the people around us. Perhaps your precipitation can be a factor in diminishing the fears other have regarding counseling.
Benefits Of Counseling
Counseling is not only beneficial to one individual’s entity but to the whole society in which we move about. The main reason why counseling will be of use to you is that it offers people a vehicle to see their problems in a different light.
This often provides a sense of hope and support for the changes that will improve their life situation. Through counseling, clients learn about their issues via a professional that offers an educated perspective on solutions.
Clients learn methods of healthy functioning, maintaining and nourishing relationships, and individual problem solving which gives them an edge in dealing with life in a balanced way.
It helps an individual to discover personal strengths that leads to an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. In this competition of becoming successful, we tend to undermine our own strengths leaving room for self-doubts and lowered self-esteem.
Counseling helps us to regain a sense of control and a pleasure in our lives. Also, after these strengths are discovered, one learns to maximize their use.
An important benefit of counseling is that it unravels the habits (procrastination, anger outbursts, arguing, compulsive eating etc.) that one maybe involved in which becomes the root cause of problems in his life.
The counselor helps the client to address these habits and provides a safe place to learn more about overcoming them by using effective strategies.
Lastly, through counseling, one is encouraged to keep a hopeful and positive attitude towards life. When somebody is struck with difficulties, it may become difficult for them to feel hopeful or have a positive outlook altogether.
Counseling helps an individual understand the impact tough situations have on their feelings, emotions and general well being.
There are many ways of providing counseling, suited for the clients’ comfort. Family counseling, marital counseling, individual counseling, peer counseling and group counseling are some of the main therapeutic setups. One can seek counseling for the most minor issues to a higher magnitude of problems in their lives. We need to understand that most peoples’ problems are not simplistic but result from a complicated intertwining of many factors.
Let’s take the example of seeking help through family counseling. This helps the counselor to explore a person’s development in relationship with others in the family system in which they grew up as well as their current system.
Therefore, this leads to a better and more concrete understanding of the problem for the counselor that results in better treatment strategies devised.
The counselor can take into consideration the emotional, physical, intellectual, religious, cultural, social, psychological and personal factors of a holistic view of each of the family member because it has an impact on each other.
Similarly, other kinds of counseling have their own mechanisms in which they work best.
Common Myths Associated With Counseling
- There are certain myths about opting for a counseling session; the most common is that it weakens a person emotionally. This is not true. Counseling helps one to keep his emotions under control and attain a sustainable amount of emotional stability which helps the individual to have his life under control.
- The counselors do not give any sort of direct opinions/advises/suggestions to the client, nor do they enforce a client to agree with their proposed solutions. However, through counseling an individual is taught to think and analyze life situations with an open mind, believing in one’s self and taking decisions best suited for a healthy mind.
- A relationship between the counselor and the client is not that of a friendly nature, instead it is based on mutual respect with unconditional positive regard from the counselor’s side. This means that the counselor deals with the client without any biasness, accepting the client with all his strengths and weaknesses, making him believe in himself and his abilities. This concept of unconditional positive regard (where the counselor remains non-judgmental and has a deep positive feeling for the client); was put forward by Carl Rogers for the first time, who can be labeled as the pioneer of counseling setups for patients.
So, it’s high time we look at the brighter side of the much terrifying taboo we have associated with visiting a counselor/psychologist for seeking help in the normal functioning of one’s life.
It will not only be helpful in improving the quality of our lives, but will also teach us the problem solving technique needed for a long term use of our skills.
Even if one isn’t fully profiting from it, at least we can achieve some amount of symptoms reduction and relief or rather peace of mind through some therapeutic techniques learnt in a counseling session.