Making the decision to reach out for support from a counselor can be hard. There are difficult questions to be asked. You may not know if counseling is necessary, or if it will even be useful. From the beginning of my time as a counseling student, I was encouraged to begin seeing a counselor myself. Even with mental health as my chosen career path it was hard to take the first step of reaching out for help.
When I finally decided to seek counseling as a student, I remember feeling nervous. I remember the nerves of initiating contact with a counselor. Then the nerves of filling out the intake paperwork. And then the nerves of making eye contact when I heard “Hunter?” while sitting in the waiting room. Sitting “knee to knee” with the counselor for the first time I still felt nervous, despite the positive connection and safe environment. As a practicing counselor here are some things I want you (and my past self) to know about seeking counseling:
- It is okay to feel nervous about seeking counseling.
- It is normal to feel nervous in the first session, and even to feel nervous after weeks or months of counseling.
- And yes, you do deserve to receive help.
Mental Health Statistics
According to the National Institute of Mental Health there are over 46 million adults in the United States living with a mental illness. That is nearly one in five adults in the country who are living with a mental illness. While this includes those living with serious mental illness, many people impacted by mental illness continue functioning with little outward display of their symptoms.
You don’t need a referral from your doctor to seek counseling in Washington State. You can call and have the Family Essentials office verify your insurance benefits today.
When to Consider Seeking Counseling
Seeking the support of a counselor to address the symptoms of mental illness or difficult life circumstances is becoming increasingly accepted as a normal and helpful action, even if you appear to be “fine” to others in your life. Seeking counseling has been helpful for me in learning to care for myself better. It has been helpful in acknowledging my experience with emotional pain. Seeking counseling helped me to be better at my job. Counseling may also be helpful for you. I have the honor of spending time each work day sitting across from clients in need, many of whom have similar feelings of nervousness about engaging in the counseling process that I did.
I remember worrying that my pain was not significant enough for my counselor’s time. I thought that I probably wasn’t the best or most interesting client for him. I remember wondering if there was a point in me going to counseling and wondering if my counselor would dismiss my struggles just as I had learned to do for myself. Rather than dismissing my pain and my concerns, through the process of counseling, I learned to take myself seriously. I have grown and found more internal peace in the process.
Some personal questions may come up as you consider seeking the support of a counselor. You may need to…
- reflect on what you are looking for in a counselor.
- ask if you are ready to commit the time, energy, and money to the relationship?
- ask if you are ready to put in some work, even if that work starts with just committing to show up to your appointment?
This blog is not intended to tell you if you meet the criteria for a mental illness. I cannot do that on this platform, and I recommend that you avoid attempting to diagnose yourself. However, along with a counselor, you can discuss the concerns that led you to read this blog. You can have your experience validated. After discussing your concerns with a mental health professional, together you can decide if ongoing support from a counselor is right for you.
There are many different reasons that someone may come to counseling. Some common reasons a person may seek counseling are:
- learning coping skills for stress and anxiety;
- managing feelings of low self esteem and feeling depressed;
- processing a traumatic event;
- adjusting to new life circumstances (new job, new child, empty nest, death of a loved one, breakup/divorce);
- managing addiction;
- difficulties with an intimate relationship/marriage;
- difficulties with relationships with others;
- managing the experience of neurodiversity;
- Here is an extended list of services we offer >
How to Find Mental Health Support
If you are concerned with your mental health or the mental health of your child, seeking counseling can be a part of your journey forward. Addressing a problem in counseling may be brief and only require a few sessions. At other times counseling may require ongoing support for much longer than that. Regardless of what you are seeking services for or how long effective treatment may take, your concerns about your mental health are valid. Your pain is real. You are allowed to seek help. You deserve to seek help. After attending your first counseling session, you may decide on your own or with your counselor that you do not need services at this time, and that is okay. But rather than jumping to that conclusion on your own, why not reach out and see if counseling might be helpful for you? To inquire about seeking counseling from a counselor at Family Essentials you can call us at 509-892-1100.
If you are in crisis and need immediate assistance please reach out now. The national suicide hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. For residents of Spokane County and some surrounding counties the 24/7 Regional Crisis Line is 1-877-266-1818.