Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that you are reading this post. It’s understood that you are only inquiring to help a “friend” that you know who is experiencing emotional pain (*wink*). So here is some information that you can take with you to ensure the right decision to move forward in counseling.
Actually, before I get to that, let me say that I’ve “been there, done that.” Even after obtaining my counseling degree and professional license, I wasn’t readily willing to go to counseling myself. Whether it was my childhood scars, emotional calluses, or pride – I would rather offer the advice sooner than declare my need for it. But I can honestly say that after being in counseling as the client, I have a better understanding of my past and present, and how it affects my relationships with others (especially my wife). So if you are anything like me, there is great benefit to seeking out counseling.
Despite the declining negative stereotype people hold against mental health, it is still important that we understand why counseling is beneficial. Mental health practice can be likened to medical practice; not only do you go to the doctor when something is (bio-medically) wrong, but also for your annual check up – to ensure your normal health. Similarly, counseling is strongly utilized not only when emotions are dysregulated, but it can also be a healthy way to “check in” every so often for the sake of your mental health maintenance.
It does not mean that whoever reaches out for counseling is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, nor that a secret intervention camera crew is about to walk through the door. It does mean that the individual seeking counseling has a lot more courage than most of us. Think about the last time anyone bragged to the office co-workers about his upcoming counseling session because he doesn’t feel in control of his emotions. It can be scary to admit to someone else that you don’t know why you feel a certain way, that you’re addicted to porn, your marriage is no longer functioning, etc. Here are some things that may encourage you to choose counseling:
- You’re confused. Sometimes our life has us up-side-down without us realizing it. It’s difficult to navigate what exactly we are facing or how its even affecting us on a daily basis. This is a good time to choose counseling.
- You’re not Superman. Despite feeling like it some days or having a successful business career, that doesn’t mean that you are able to navigate healthy mental/emotional steps all by yourself in your personal life. Don’t struggle alone, choose counseling to help yourself out.
- Your daily life is not the norm. Do you feel low, have irregular sleep patterns, or have atypical thoughts consume your mind? This can be a clue that your mental health is suffering. Get back to your normal health with counseling.
- Your relationships are suffering. Are you easily agitated with others whom are normally close with you (spouse, friends, etc.)? Are you atypically withdrawn from social relationships? If this is your pattern, then it may strongly suggest that you should seek out counseling to regulate your daily relationships.
- You don’t have fun anymore. When your favored activities no longer hold pleasure for you, then that can indicate your moods are dysregulated. Finding a way back to your happy self again is a good reason to see a counselor.
- You’re addicted. Whenever there is something (gambling, sex, porn, alcohol, drugs, etc.) that you find yourself preoccupied by or pouring your resources into, that is reckless and unsustainable. You cannot be healthy when simultaneously not taking care of your present or future well-being.
Although these are valid reasons to choose counseling, it is always easier to have excuses for turning away from mental health. Time, money, projects, and work – all will slide into valuable priorities, but managing your mental health will lead to better management of your resources in the long run. Remember that it takes courage to seek out help. When you find yourself in counseling, it is not a moment of weakness, but rather the epithet for holistic health. You’ll thank yourself later.
Jesse is one of our Biblical Counselors at Emmaus Counseling. He received his Masters of Arts in Counseling from MBTS in 2014 and is a LPC in the state of Kansas. Jesse and his wife Julie have 3 children and have lived in Kansas City, Spain and Iowa.