If you’ve never been to a mental health counseling session before, you might be unsure of what it can do for you. It doesn’t help that there are lots of myths, misconceptions, and even stigmas around mental health care, either. In reality, seeking a counselor for mental health support is normal and can be beneficial for all kinds of people in all kinds of different situations.
Online Therapy Can Help Support You Wherever You Are
4 Things You May Not Know About Mental Health Counseling
While public opinion about mental health and mental health care are shifting in a positive direction in general, there are still many misunderstandings out there about what it means to get the help of a counselor. Let’s start by making a few things clear on this topic.
1. Mental Health Is Important And Impactful
Mental health can have a significant effect on a person’s day-to-day functioning as well as on their physical health, so prioritizing it can positively impact all areas of life. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that “mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders” and that it’s “an integral part of health” and that “there is no health without mental health”. Depending on the individual, mental health counseling can be anything from a life-saving treatment to a method of healthy routine maintenance—just like seeing any other health professional can be. Mental health counseling is so much more than this, you can find many benefits of psychology therapy and it's worth educating the public about it. There are reasons to believe that everyone needs counseling.
2. Counseling Is For Anyone
Some people have internalized the societal message that those who get mental health treatment are broken, or that something is wrong with them. In reality, mental health challenges are extremely common and don’t reflect negatively on the individual at all. One in four adults in the United States will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year—and even those who do not have a clinical disorder may still benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. The goal of doing so is unique to each individual. Some people are looking for strategies to handle symptoms of a mental illness, while others are looking for support in getting in touch with their emotions, better navigating conflict in their relationships, or processing a difficult experience. In general, anyone and everyone can benefit from counseling in one way or another.
3. It’s Okay To Ask For Help
Perhaps because most mental health challenges show less obvious visible signs than many physical health challenges, some people believe that overcoming them is simply a matter of willpower. In actuality, this is not the case. Those with mental health concerns deserve and may benefit from mental health care—as much as someone with a broken leg, a persistent cough, or a chronic illness deserves and would benefit from physical health care. Someone with an illness or who simply isn’t feeling well can feel empowered to seek the care that they need, whether it’s mental or physical. Mental health counseling is more than just speaking to someone on a couch. It can be in the form of a client centered therapy wherein the client actively takes the floor while the therapist acts as a quide. One benefit of client centered therapy is it decreases feelings of anxiety and panic. Overall, counseling has many benefits that can keep a person strong and ready to take on anything that life has to offer.
4. Counseling Isn’t The Same As Talking With Friends
Some people believe that they couldn’t gain anything more from mental health counseling than they already get from talking about their problems with friends or family. While having a strong social support system can be an important element of a person’s well-being, speaking with a counselor about your mental health can offer benefits that talking to loved ones may not. Mental health professionals are specially trained in things like active listening, identifying distorted thought patterns, identifying symptoms of mental illnesses, and many other skills that can help you on your mental health journey. Their job is to provide a safe, nonjudgmental space in which you can express and explore your emotions and work through the challenges you may be facing.
Potential Benefits Of Mental Health Counseling
A mental health counselor can be helpful to people in all kinds of different situations. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health, so they’ll start by getting to know you and your situation so they can figure out how to best support you. In general, however, working with a mental health professional like a therapist may offer benefits such as those listed below.
You Can Get Things Off Your Chest
Mental health counselors are experts in the art of active listening, which can be crucial for a productive therapeutic relationship. A 2014 study on the topic found that participants who received active listening responses felt more understood and were more satisfied with their conversation than those who received “advice or simple acknowledgments”. In therapy, you can trust that your therapist will take in whatever you have to say in a nonjudgmental way—and that process alone can provide some relief and comfort when facing a challenge.
You Can Change Limiting Beliefs Or Behaviors
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is “the gold standard of psychotherapy” and one of the most common therapeutic methods out there, and it focuses on identifying and shifting harmful thought patterns. Through this method especially, you may be able to change the way you think about yourself, your relationships, and your life, which can impact the way you feel about those things as well. That’s why CBT is such an effective treatment for things like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. If you’re looking to shift your outlook or better manage your emotions or behaviors, therapy may help.
You Can Learn New Skills
By working with a mental health counselor over time, you may be able to build new skills that can positively impact your life. For example, they can help you devise strategies and coach you on how to improve your approach to communicating, resolving conflict, handling difficult emotions, or managing symptoms of a mental illness, for example. But if you want to be one, you still have much to go through to know how to become a counselor.
You Can Learn About Yourself
Therapy can be a powerful tool for introspection. A therapist can help you identify patterns in the way you think, feel, and behave, and even explore where those patterns may come from. They may be able to help you discover your authentic self, from how your past shaped you to what you really want for the future. Insights like these can have an enormous effect on how you approach relationships and the decisions you make for your life.
How To Connect With A Mental Health Counselor
For mental health counseling to be maximally effective, it’s important that you find a therapist and a format that feels most comfortable for you. There are many different options out there, and settling on the one that’s right for you may take some trial and error. When it comes to therapists, you want someone you feel safe being open and honest with, so it’s worth continuing your search until you find the right match. When it comes to formats, you can choose between in-person or virtual therapy. Research suggests that the two offer similar benefits, so it comes down to your preferences regarding comfort, accessibility, and cost.
If you feel that online therapy might be a good match for your needs, a service like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed mental health counselor. These counselors are available 24/7. You’ll have the option to speak with them via phone call, video call, and/or online chat. For those who prefer receiving treatment from the comfort of their own home, this type of counseling therapy is an available option.
Most people can benefit from some form of mental health counseling, if they choose to. Whether it’s to get in touch with emotions, sort out a difficult situation, or manage symptoms of a mental illness, a trained therapist can support you on your journey toward improved mental health.