If you’ve never been to a mental health counseling session, you might be unsure of what to expect and what it can do for you. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are numerous myths, misconceptions, and even stigmas around mental health care. In reality, seeking a counselor for mental health support can benefit people in many situations for all kinds of reasons. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the most significant benefits of mental health therapy along with some common misconceptions about it.
Online Therapy Can Help Support You, Whatever Your Challenge Is
Four Things You May Not Know About Mental Health Counseling
While public opinion about mental health and mental health care is shifting in a positive direction in general, there are still many misunderstandings about what it means to get the help of a counselor. Let’s start by clarifying a few points on this topic.
1. Mental Health Is Important And Impactful
Mental health has a significant effect on a person’s day-to-day functioning and their physical health, so prioritizing it can positively impact all areas of life. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders,” and “Mental health is an integral part of overall health,” and “There is no health without mental health.” So the importance of mental health is widely recognized.
Depending on the individual, mental health counseling can be anything from a life-saving treatment to a method of healthy routine maintenance, similar to seeing any other healthcare professional. Psychological therapy has many benefits, and some people believe everyone needs counseling at some point in life.
2. Counseling Is For Anyone
Some people have internalized the societal message that those who get mental health treatment are broken or something is wrong with them. However, mental health challenges are prevalent and happen to people across all demographic groups. 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 diagnosis may still benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. However, the goal of doing so is unique to each individual. Ultimately, most mental health conditions can be successfully treated if the person seeks help.
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, navigating conflict in their relationships, or processing a difficult experience from the past or present. Still others need support and information from a mental health expert to guide them in their relationship with someone close to them who has a mental illness. People can benefit from counseling for these and many other reasons.
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 believe overcoming them is only a matter of willpower. However, this is not the case. Those with mental health concerns deserve and may benefit from mental healthcare as much as someone with a broken leg, a persistent cough, or a chronic illness deserves and would benefit from seeing a doctor.
Mental health counseling is more than just speaking to someone. It can involve client-centered therapy wherein the client actively leads the discussion while the therapist provides non-judgmental support. One benefit of client-centered therapy is it decreases feelings of anxiety and panic that can make it hard to reach out for help.
4. Counseling Isn’t The Same As Talking With Friends
Some people believe 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 robust social support system can be a vital 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 techniques 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 where you can express yourself, explore emotions, and work through the challenges you may be facing now or from the past.
Four Potential Benefits Of Mental Health Counseling
A mental health counselor can be helpful to people in many situations. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mental health, so a therapist starts by getting to know you and your situation and discovering how to best support you and your goals.
In general, however, working with a mental health professional like a therapist may offer benefits such as the following:
You Can Get Things Off Your Chest
Mental health counselors are experts in active listening, which can be crucial for a productive therapeutic relationship. A 2014 study 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 nonjudgmentally; that process alone can provide relief and comfort when facing a challenge or healing past trauma.
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 used by therapists today. It focuses on identifying and shifting harmful thought patterns and the behaviors that arise from them. Through this method, you may be able to change the way you think about yourself, your relationships, and your life. CBT effectively treats many conditions like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. If you are 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 can build new skills that can positively impact your life. For example, a therapist can help you devise strategies and coach you on improving your approach to communicating, resolving conflict, handling difficult emotions, or managing symptoms of a mental illness.
You Can Learn About Yourself
Therapy can be a powerful tool for introspection. A therapist can help you identify patterns in how you think, feel, and behave and 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 want most for the future. Insights like these can powerfully effect how you approach relationships and decisions in life.
How To Connect With A Mental Health Counselor
For mental health counseling to be maximally effective, finding a therapist and a format that feels comfortable for you is crucial. If you are ready to try talk therapy, there are many different options available, and settling on the one that is right for you may take some trial and error. When it comes to a therapist, you want someone you feel safe being open and honest with, so it’s worth continuing your search until you find the right match. Regarding therapy formats, you can choose between in-person or virtual sessions. 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.com can connect you with a licensed mental health counselor over the Internet. These counselors are available via phone call, video chat, and chat messaging. For those who prefer receiving treatment from the comfort of their home, this type of counseling therapy is a readily available, economical option.
The benefits of mental health therapy include expressing complicated or painful feelings aloud to a trained, non-judgmental listener, understanding and changing limiting thought patterns, attitudes, and behaviors, learning new interpersonal skills like successful communication and conflict resolution, and learning about yourself.
Most people can benefit from some form of mental health counseling if they choose. 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 and a fulfilling life.