I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.

Carl Jung

What can counseling do for me?

There are a variety of benefits that can come from counseling, and they tend to be individualized. Counselor’s are there to provide levels of support, teach certain skills, and help clients discover new coping strategies for things like addiction recovery, anxiety, depression, stress, or even creative blocks. You don’t need to have some kind of ‘major disorder’ to find usefulness from counseling. In fact, if you’re simply looking for personal growth in any aspect of your life, you can typically find the skills and resources through counseling to help with recovery challenges, family problems, marital issues, and more. Essentially, a counselor offers a different way of looking at things – perhaps a perspective you haven’t yet considered, which makes it easier to point you in the right direction, and find the solutions you’re looking for in life.

Of course, counselor’s can’t just ‘fix’ everything on their own. It’s about using those resources you learn in your everyday life that can really turn things around. Still unsure about what counseling could do for you? Let’s take a look a few examples of some common benefits:

– Relapse Prevention
– Grasping a deeper understanding of who you are
– Identifying your goals and dreams
– Obtaining the right skills for bettering your life’s relationships
– Learning resources to put an end to the issues that brought you to counseling
– Managing problem areas in your personal life, like anger, stress, depression, etc.
– Creating new patterns of behavior for yourself
– Changing your problem-solving perspective
– Boosting your self-esteem and confidence

If I feel as though I can handle my addiction and issues on my own, is counseling really necessary?

There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t experiences challenges of some kind throughout their life, especially when addiction is involved. Some people can simply get through them better than others, and even then, it’s never a bad idea to have additional support and understanding when it comes to the obstacles you’ve gone through. In all actuality, counseling is ideal for people who understand themselves enough to realize they actually could use some help, instead of denying it. Noticing that your life isn’t necessarily where you want it to be is a big realization and admittance, and taking the steps to change that for the better is something to be incredibly proud of. You’re taking the first step down an incredible path that can lead to long-lasting benefits for the rest of your life, even when challenges come up again.

What makes people go to counseling in the first place? How do I know if it’s the right decision?

While everyone’s reasons for coming to counseling are different, whether they’re curious about addiction recovery, needing some help navigating recovery, going through a big life change, or a specific event like a divorce or death of a loved one, or just aren’t dealing with stressful situations ideally. Sometimes, the assistance of counseling can not only help with specific situations, but personal issues as well. Addiction / substance abuse problems, alcoholism, or the effects from it, such as depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and even low-self esteem are often common reasons to seek out help. You may start out looking for one thing, and find on your journey that you can gain so much more through learning the right skills, and having the right kind of encouragement.

In terms of making the ‘right decision’ for yourself, of course counseling is a personal decision, but if you take a look at your life, and your desire is to make a change that starts from within, it’s likely that some form of counseling or treatment could be a great benefit.

What can I expect from counseling?

Just like the reasons for counseling are different for everyone, most people can expect different experiences. The good news is that counseling is completely individually-focused, which is why everyone can get something different out of it. Generally, your life, your history, and any relevant insights will be important to the specific discussions, but in a very personal and individualized manner. Sometimes counseling can be focused on a specific need, in which case it’s a ‘short term’ solution, while in other cases, many people go to counseling regularly, each week, to simply look for more personal growth.

Again, counseling isn’t meant to be some kind of ‘quick fix’ where you simply sit back and listen. It is a participatory experience. The more you involve yourself in the process, the better results you’re bound to see. It’s a practice in everyday living, in which you take what you learn from the session, and apply it to your life. Therefore, it’s important to be mentally prepared to make those changes in your life, and desire new perspectives on things.

How should one consider medication vs. psychotherapy?

While medication has been proven to help with many things, sometimes it simply isn’t enough. Medication often treats the symptoms of a problem, without getting to the root of solving it, which is where counseling comes in. The decision to take medications or not, is a highly personal one to be made by you and a physician, and your personal wishes will be honored. If in the course of treatment, you decided you might benefit from medications, I will refer you out to an appropriate provider.

People are turning more and more to holistic and natural alternatives to modern medicine to treat mental, physical and spiritual issues. I fully support alternative options as such essential oils, chiropractic and massage care, yoga, diet/exercise and nutrition options, and other means you might explore to improve your well being. I can refer you to professional holistic providers in the area for further consultation.

Do the topics in each counseling session remain private?

There is practically nothing more important in counseling than confidentiality. As with any doctor/patient agreement, your privacy is of the utmost importance. A good counselor understands the vulnerability and openness that must come from each client in order to really get through, so counseling itself can take a lot of trust, and that needs to be developed over time. Make sure your counselor offers a confidentiality agreement before you begin your sessions, typically called ‘informed consent.’ It is your choice if you’d like to have your counselor share anything significant with your other healthcare providers, but this can only be done with your written consent. Nothing you share in your sessions is to be told to anyone else, with the rare exceptions of suspected abuse of any kind (including child protection), or if the counselor has any reason to believe their client may hurt themselves, or others. These situations are a matter of ethical procedures, and sometimes, even the law.