In the United States, counseling and anything mental health related has a bad rep. When the idea of therapy is mentioned, responses often include words such as "weak," "crazy" and sometimes even "shameful." Perspectives about mental health and counseling can be so strong that people may not seek the assistance they need as a result. What happens if we do not receive the help we need? We don't get better! If we don't get better, our health and well-being can begin to suffer and in some instances, we can struggle to function on a day-to-day basis.
So what do we do? Answer: Fight this stigma and change societal perspectives about mental health and counseling!
Now, you may be thinking to yourself "Sounds great, but easier said than done." Yes, changing our viewpoints can be difficult. We all grow up learning unique sets of standards and being exposed to different experiences. These standards and experiences inform our thoughts, feelings and behaviors toward the outside world. But remember: we are human! We are capable of change! Change can be frightening but it can also be the catalyst for new and fulfilling experiences. What's that saying? Change is the only constant? 😊
Counseling as a superfood for your mind, body and soul
Despite the stigma that surrounds mental health, the counseling process offers a number of benefits that impact our minds, bodies and spirits in healthy ways. These benefits transcend the stigma that exists and help people of all ages to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Think of therapy as a superfood. By definition, a superfood is a " nutrient-rich food" that helps to improve an individual's overall health and well-being. Though therapy is not a food in the literal sense, we can think of the counseling process as one that aims to enrich our minds, bodies and souls with new information. Below are a few advantages of therapy that ultimately help to improve our overall functioning and well-being.
1. Development of New Perspectives
Therapy allows us the opportunity to process our thoughts and feelings that surround our life experiences. Through this process, we are able to shed that which no longer serves us, including unhelpful or maladaptive perspectives . Gaining fresh insights helps us to adjust our behavior in healthy ways and make healthier choices in our lives.
2. Opportunity to Build "Healthy Skills Toolbox"
One highly important benefit of counseling is the opportunity it provides for us to learn and practice healthy coping strategies that can be used day to day or when difficult situations arise. These skills can include relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, distraction methods, etc. We can learn new coping skills while in therapy and experiment with a variety of techniques to learn which ones will best help us. Once we know which strategies are most helpful for us, we can keep them in a "toolbox" that we carry everyday so that we can access the tools we need at any time. As a result, we are better equipped to handle that which comes our way.
3. Time to "Get That Monkey Off Your Back"
Counseling is a journey. Each session is time that is set aside for you and only you. This time can be spent in whatever way works for you (online shopping excluded). You may choose to discuss an experience from your childhood, problem solve an issue with a co-worker, or focus on improving your communication skills to better your relationships. No matter the topics discussed, relief from feelings of discomfort (whatever those may be) can be one of the most important benefits of the therapeutic process. Therapy can help to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, improve self-esteem, help to improve relationships, process traumatic events, etc. All of these experiences can create great distress emotionally and physically. No matter the focus, therapy can help to improve one's emotional and physical health.
4. Be A More Confident You
Working through that which troubles us can be very helpful with improving how we feel about ourselves. Counseling offers us a unique opportunity to process difficult situations with a neutral, non judgemental guide. Remember the therapist is the guide! Therapists offer objective feedback that can help us to gain awareness about changes we may need to make to be more effective in our lives. This may mean feeling more confident in our ability to handle difficult situations more effectively, such as disagreements with colleagues or loved ones or working through fears that have prevented us from living more fully.
5. Learn Who You Are
A powerful effect of the therapeutic process is the potential to learn more about yourself and what is truly right for you. We may have a general sense of who we are as a person, but there might be some things we're not sure about. We are constantly changing so it's no surprise that we might feel confused about the kind of person we are from time to time. Counseling can help us to sort out those things that are clouding our view and help us to solidify our personal values and spiritual truths.
So, you ready?
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