Why Counseling Kinda Sucks Pt. 2

Ever had that feeling when everyone else is eating donuts for breakfast but you’re drinking your protein shake? How about that moment when you’re called lame for skipping the late-night outing with friends so you can be home before midnight?

This is also one of the reasons why counseling kind of sucks. There comes a moment in time when you take a look around, and realize you’re the one who’s doing the most work and receiving the most pushback.

This article will go over some of the challenges faced in counseling and why it kinda sucks.

You’re the only one doing work

Here’s the scenario: You’ve come to a point when you’ve decided you want an improved version of you. You start counseling and begin seeing results. You’re seeing the world in a different way and want so badly for your loved ones to drink the cool-aid too. But they don’t, and the more you push them, the more it seems they never will.

It can be discouraging to apply coping skills you’re learning in counseling, then see those around you stay the same. Because then they think, you’re the one changing so you must be the problem. Maybe you take a look at your parents and know that if they just communicated better, they’d be so much happier. Or if your husband could just learn about the 5 love languages, he would know how to love and be loved.

But you have to remember, counseling was never about them to begin with. This is your time, your journey, your work, for you to feel the benefits of. If they see it, great, and if not, that’s ok too.

Which brings us to point number 2…

People may not want you to change

You’re the one who’s doing the most work and you’re the one receiving the most pushback. Why? People don’t like change, even good change. One of the harder parts of counseling is trying so hard to apply strategies you’ve talked about with your counselor, only to see people around you are resistant, doubtful, and outright unsupportive.

You have to remember, people have known you to be one way for a long time. And now you’re changing, so by default they now have to change their expectations of you. Maybe you were always the “yes” person, but now are using “no” for the first time. People may not like that. Just like you’ve grown comfortable with some bad habits, so have they.

Counseling can be exhausting

Don’t get us wrong, counseling can be a beautiful thing…but… it’s can also be very difficult, scary and downright exhausting at times. Let’s be real, no one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves “I can’t wait to see my counselor and ball my eyes out!” Neither do you say “I can’t wait to talk about the most intimate and vulnerable things that have ever happened in my life. Again.”

Let’s put it into perspective: You start counseling to talk about things in your life that happened a long time ago. A couple years ago, maybe childhood, or perhaps since your first marriage? We’re usually talking months ago, if not years these things changed you. And you only want to spend a few weeks in counseling before things change? Doesn’t work that way although we wish it did- check this out.

Counseling truly is an individual experience. It’s a wonderful thing when you start seeing results and positive outcomes in areas you’ve work so hard in. But there may be a flipside. At times, people see you growing and rather than being supportive, may feel offended. Rather than also feeling motivated to change, they may fault you for being “different.”

But remember, continue with the mission you set out to do, regardless of what happens around you. One day you will see how contagious you truly were.

4 Things to Expect When Starting Counseling

4 Things to Expect When Starting Counseling

What is counseling all about?

Written by: Laura Kotlowski, MA, LPC, LCDC, NCC, CCTP, EMDR Trained

Counseling is a journey of healing, gaining insights, and learning healthy ways to get along with life in general. We understand that starting counseling is a major decision, but remember you deserve to feel connected to your self-worth, to make sense of unhealthy patterns, and to learn positive coping skills.

Lots of people don’t know what to expect when starting counseling so here’s an article that can help with that. Let’s just say, it’s worth checking out. YOU are worth checking it out.

Here are 4 things to expect when starting the counseling process:

  1. Counseling is a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

Counseling is one of the best investments you can make with self-care and your growth. It’s a “gift that keeps on giving” where you notice positive changes in your reactions to tough situations and emotions become easier to navigate.  Counseling doesn’t CHANGE YOU, however, it can help you learn your strengths and live in the world as your best self.

  1. You are the “expert” and the counselor is a supportive guide.

Good counselors know the client is the expert of their life experience and their counseling goals. You may be surprised to learn that all you need to be the happiest and most peaceful version of yourself already lies within you.  A counselor’s job is to help you navigate the unclear road that leads there…and sometimes to help you dig around until you find your deepest truths. Ultimately, you’re the one steering it all.

  1. Starting AND continuing the journey of counseling can feel overwhelming.

Counseling is a lot like exercising.  Often times, starting a healthy physical journey requires you to think about it, research it, talk about it, and talk sometimes yourself out of it – loads of times before actually starting. We all know the benefits of exercising and would love those benefits – though a lot of times the idea of starting the journey can feel daunting and anxiety-provoking. If you’re anything like us, we’ve wished many times to have the benefits of working out or going to counseling without actually having to do it. We’re even writing a blog about it- read more about “Why Counseling Kinda Sucks.”

The only way to achieve goals is to take the first step towards them… and then another step… each step is less scary and overwhelming because you will start to see you are stronger and more resilient than you realized.

Back to the exercising analogy: if your goal is to run a marathon, bench-press 300 lbs, or knock out a 5-minute plank with ease – the first step would be to show up at the gym, walk a ½ mile, start with smaller weight, or shoot for a 15 second plank.  In the world of counseling, we need to give ourselves that same grace.  It takes time to increase our insight and awareness, learn new coping skills or choose healthier behaviors.  We don’t have to know how to do it all right away and that’s ok! You can start by making an appointment with a counselor and share where you are today, even if you aren’t sure what your end goal is.

  1. You might surprise yourself and actually enjoy counseling!

Counseling is fun!  Not EVERY minute, but lots of them can be!  Sometimes we don’t love exercising but if we stick with it, we begin to feel the positive benefits. If we stay consistent, we actually start to look forward to the tasks that help us grow and ultimately make us stronger and healthier.

Sometimes people may avoid counseling because they envision lots of uncomfortable and tense emotions.  While this may be true, you can also experience many preferred “positive” emotions.  There is no better feeling than laughing your way to a solution, having the “ah-ha” moment where you almost see a light bulb turn on in your head, or unexpectedly feeling “lighter/at ease/peaceful” after sharing your feelings.

You have all that is needed within you to find peace.  Our purpose, as counselors, is to witness this moment in your life story – as you bravely step out of fear into faith and begin this journey into healing and transformation.  Our intent is to support and encourage your growth, and when needed, offer a compass of guidance towards truth and hope.

You’ve got this!  Even so, counselors would be honored to walk along side you on this leg of your journey. We hope to see some of you out there on the path and wish ALL of you the absolute best.

Why Counseling Kinda Sucks. Pt 1

Why Counseling Kinda Sucks. Pt 1

Written by: Rebecca Flores

If you’re asking yourself, “Do I really need counseling?”, “Why can’t I get it together without counseling?” or “Why does everyone else look so happy and they’re not in counseling?” This article is for you. We get it. Counseling kinda sucks.

This is why counseling could suck: 

  1. We don’t even know where to start
  2. We sometimes think some random stranger will give us advice.
  3. We wonder if the therapist will give us a blank stare and ask us how we feel.
  4. We worry about wasting money.
  5. We worry about having to talk about ALL that stuff in the past.
  6. We wonder if it’s going to take us years.
  7. We think it’s going to be a cure or the answer to it all and if it’s not, THEN WHAT?

Counseling doesn’t have to suck and here’s why:

  1. You don’t have to know where to start.  We will help you with that part.  You just have to come as you are, where you are in your life at this moment.
  2. As therapists, we don’t just dole out advice, we work WITH you and FOR you, so you can get where you need to be to feel better.
  3. Therapists know the dreaded question “How does that make you feel?”  Will we ask this SOMETIMES? Sure- but it will be natural in sessions.
  4. If you don’t feel it in your gut that the therapist across from you is right for you, then you don’t have to continue.  It’s about you, not the therapist!  We want you to feel like you can do your best work with us, and if you don’t feel that way, we won’t take it personally.  Ok, our feelings get just a little bit hurt because we are human.  But we really do just want you to be with the person who you feel a connection to. We will always, at a minimum, point you in the direction of someone else who may be a better fit for you!
  5. It’s true that sometimes the past is creeping up on our present, but there are other ways to work with what’s going on without having to dig up your past if you don’t feel ready.    
  6. There have been so many advances in care, so counseling doesn’t have to take years.
  7. Counseling isn’t a cure or the ANSWER to it all.  Through counseling, you will be able to figure out what needs to be worked through and we help you figure out HOW to get to where you need to be to start feeling better again

Ultimately, we want your glass to be half full again. So if you’re considering starting counseling, take a look at this blog for some extra tips before you get started.

5 Ways to Know if your Stress is actually Anxiety

5 Ways to Know if your Stress is actually Anxiety

Everyone experiences stress and worry from time to time. The difference between feeling stressed versus having clinical anxiety is very specific. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for if you’re wondering if your worry is becoming a problem.

Feeling anxious can stem from stressful situations so mix kids, marriage, traffic, COVID-19, and BAM! You’ve got stress. Anxiety, however, is different. It’s a mindset that isn’t a feeling. It comes when we don’t want it and keeps us from being able to stay present in the moment. Here are a few ways to know if you worried feelings may be turning into anxiety.

  • You’ve tried tons of different things to control the worry but nothing seems to help. You’ve read different articles and blogs and tried all of the different tips you’ve heard from others. Still nothing seems to be working? Anxiety is a constant and pervasive experience. It happens with the largest and smallest of things. It often plagues your day-to-day mind, making it hard to concentrate on anything other than what you’re worried about. If you’ve tried different things and nothing seems to be working, this may be a sign to get extra help.
  • Your day-to-day routine is suffering. You find yourself avoiding certain places in an effort to avoid the anxiety. Others have noticed you’re starting to become MIA more often and are worried about you. Things you used to be able to enjoy aren’t fun anymore and you don’t feel like yourself.
  • Your eating and sleeping patterns are unstable. Eating and sleeping are part of our basic needs- we need these to survive. With preoccupations of the mind, your body may respond too. There are times anxiety will make you miss meals without realizing it, or seek different comfort foods to try and cope. You may find yourself getting restless at night despite being really tired. The mind has a hard time just “shutting off” which makes for late nights trying to get to sleep. Just remember, unintentional disruptions of eating or sleeping patterns are never good.
  • Other people notice. Despite your best attempts to keep things under control and away from the social eye, those around you are noticing. They see you getting anxious more often and might say you seem “different “or “off.” Remember a lot of times those around us who love us and spend a lot of time with us can notice these things before we do. If someone is noticing it, it may be worth seeking extra help.
  • Anxiety attacks. A lot of times with anxiety, comes panic which can create panic or anxiety attacks. Shortness of breath, feeling as though you will pass out, rapid heart rate, sweatiness, feeling out of control, feeling chills or really hot? This may be your body’s response to feeling emotionally and mentally dysregulated. You don’t feel calm and steady emotionally so your body is “off” too.

If you have experienced, or are experiencing, any of the above, don’t hesitate to reach out for extra support. You don’t need to have all of the criteria in order to be in counseling or get help from a doctor. Although you may not have clinical anxiety, if this article sounds like you, it’s clear you’re feeling stressed or anxious about something. Don’t wait until problems get worse. Keep your health as number one, and when in doubt ask. Here are a few tips to managing anxiety.

Send us a message if you’re not sure what else to do. We guarantee a response within 12 hours, including evenings, holidays, and weekends.

4 Questions to Answer BEFORE Starting Counseling

So you’ve decided it’s time to get counseling, but you’re not sure where to start?

Here are the 4 questions you must answer before choosing a counselor:

  1. Will I use my insurance or go the private pay route?
  2. What is the problem I’m facing?
  3. What are their office hours?
  4. How quickly do I want to start?

INSURANCE OR PRIVATE PAY?

 If you want to use your insurance, call the member services line on the back of your insurance card and ask them to send you a list of “MENTAL HEALTH/BEHAVIORAL HEALTH providers” in your network. From this list, do your research online and see if you can find a good match.

Contrary to what some may think, not every counselor takes your insurance

Be sure to call your insurance to see if they will cover counseling sessions [like phone or virtual counseling, couples counseling or group counseling]. 

If you are using the private pay, take a look at your finances. Many private pay counseling sessions can run you anywhere between $90-$160 per one-hour session. There are, however, other options such as sliding scale fees, hardship options, or lowered rates with clinicians. 

PRESENTING PROBLEM

If you had to sum up the problem you’re facing in 1 to 3 words, what would it be? Anxiety? Family problems? Marital issues? Child’s behavior? Whatever it is, try to narrow it down. Don’t diagnose yourself, but gain an idea so you can explain it to the person on the other end of the line. It’s important your counselor has experience with your issue. Counselors have specialties or niches; so again, contrary to what you may think, not every counselor has experience or works with your presenting problem. 

Also VERY important, if the person needing counseling is a child (under 18), specifically ask if the counselor has experience working with their age group (preschoolers/elementary aged/tweens/teens).

OFFICE HOURS

Counseling can be hard enough, don’t make things more complicated by having someone whose office location or hours are inconvenient for your life situation. If you live in a large city, there are actually more counselors than you may think. Check into different office locations, hours and days open during the week and make sure it compliments your life schedule. If needed, ask about virtual counseling as this could also help take the hassle out of a weekly drive to an appointment.

WAIT TIME?

Lastly, and perhaps most important, how quick is their turnaround time? How long will it take to set up an initial appointment? Some counselors have availability to see a new client asap, others have a wait list and some aren’t taking new clients at all. This is a tough trade off because some counselors are worth the wait. However, if you’re issue is urgent and pressing, the sooner the better.

I hope this list helps! Happy hunting!