Practical Tips for Living With Anxiety: Counseling
It’s been awhile since I shared a practical tip for living with anxiety.
While this post falls under the umbrella of anxiety posts, I strongly recommend anyone who has ever survived adolescence spend some time with a counselor (aka all of us). Here are some reasons why counseling is so important and how to find the right counselor for you.
Counseling is important
Clinically, counseling helps develop new habits and coping mechanisms when dealing with a mental health issue or after loss of any kind. Counseling is important even if you don’t struggle with a mental health and haven’t experienced a catastrophic loss.
SOMEONE TO TALK TO
At its most basic level, counseling is an opportunity to talk through all of life with someone. It’s a safe place to share doubts and worries and hopes and dreams. Counselors are trained in listening and asking questions and practice confidentiality. Sometimes it just takes a good listener to ask the right question to break through a road block in life. I find that even with seemingly inconsequential memories, it is helpful to process them in order to be able to let them go and move forward.
When you’re struggling with dealing with a challenging season in life, it can be difficult to discuss it with friends and family who may be wrestling their own challenges. A counselor is not emotionally connected to your situation, so they can give an outside perspective that you couldn’t get from someone close to you. They aren’t giving you emotional reactions, but objective, non-emotional advice to encourage you towards a healthier life.
SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP
There is nothing wrong with going to friends and family for good counsel and advice. However, sometimes you’re struggling with something that the people closest to you aren’t equipped to help with. Counselors are trained to help and give you the advice you truly need, not what you might want to hear.
Find the right counselor
Finding a counselor can be a long discouraging process, but finding the right counselor can make a world of difference in a difficult season.
CHECKLIST OF PRIORITIES
Figure out what is most important in a counselor and use those parameters to start searching. When I’m looking for a counselor I look for someone with experience in grief, anxiety, depression, and someone who shares my faith. Your list may include some or none of those things. We each have unique needs.
SOMEONE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH
Whenever people ask me for tips to find a counselor, I always recommend they keep looking until they find someone they’re comfortable with. I’ve been to counselors I didn’t completely trust and the result was that I wasn’t completely open and honest (which kind of defeats the purpose). If you can’t be completely honest, you’re not going to reap the many benefits counseling has to offer.
Don’t wait until life feels impossible to find a counselor. When you’re treading water in life, you don’t have the mental or emotional energy to ‘shop’ for a counselor. If you find a counselor when life feels manageable, you can develop good strategies for managing stress, relationships, and decision making for when life gets hard.
A MENTAL PERSONAL TRAINER
We hire people to help us improve our nutrition and our physical strength, so why do we tend to view needing a counselor as a weakness? Seeing a counselor is a way to maintain mental and emotional strength and balance. If you struggle with feeling like going to counseling is shameful, think of a counselor as a mental personal trainer.