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Counseling Towards Better Mental Health: A First-Timer’s Guide

Mental health is one of the hottest topics in contemporary society. It’s a subject that was long stigmatized.

However, people are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health and are talking about it more openly, which is a great development.

People recognize that mental health is critical to living a happy and fulfilled life.  

Remember that your physical, mental, emotional, and psychological health are all important. You shouldn’t just focus on one aspect.

It’s often the case that when you’re not healthy in any of these areas, other areas will be affected. But your mental wellness might just be the most important aspect.

This guide is meant to assist individuals starting their mental health counseling journey.  

When Should You Seek Help?

While it’s normal to have day-to-day pressures, it’s important to draw a fine line between what’s normal and what isn’t. If you notice that pressures are causing shifts in your behaviors and emotions, it may be a sign that you need professional help.  

There are several reasons why one may seek mental health counseling. Here are some of the main ones:  

  • Traumatic Experiences – Some traumatic events might bring on mental health issues. Traumatic events include being sexually abused, losing a loved one, and having a near-death experience. 

Individuals respond differently to pain or tragedy. You can’t always assess another person’s experience based on how you would respond in the same situation. The same incident might happen to two people, yet they might react differently. 

Nevertheless, if you’ve had a traumatic or unpleasant experience, you might need counseling to get through whatever you’re going through. A qualified counselor can assist you with this.  

  • Difficult Relationships – Humans are hard-wired to be in relationships as social beings. Hence, relationships play a crucial role in life. But even though they can be a great source of fulfillment, they can also cause hurt and heartache. 

Despite your best efforts, having perfect relationships is not the easiest. In difficult or abusive relationships, people can experience mental health issues. These people require assistance to deal with those issues.  

Here are some signs you may need help:  

  • Loss of interest in doing anything or things that you used to enjoy doing  
  • Struggling to focus  
  • Anxiety, depression, and agitation  
  • Sleeping troubles 
  • Poor appetite  

It’s crucial to remember that the human psyche is both fascinating and perplexing. Understanding oneself, let alone life and the things that come with it, is not always simple. Being self-aware, though, might help you recognize when something is amiss.

How Long Should You Attend Counseling?  

When it comes to mental health counseling, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everybody’s circumstances are different. Thus, they will require unique approaches to achieving mental wellness. Some people might need five counseling sessions, but others might need months of therapy.  

The length of therapy is not the main issue. Dealing with the root of the problem is what’s essential. Every person’s situation will be different. Therefore, your therapist should tailor your path to mental wellness to your situation.  

Mental Health Counseling Tips For First-Timers  

  • Choose Your Therapist Carefully 

It’s important to note that therapists may specialize in different things. Mental health service providers, like Insight Northwest Counseling Eugene Oregon, usually have various specialized services to offer. 

You want to choose a therapist with experience dealing with mental health cases similar to yours. Here’s a list of some of the ‘specialist’ therapists to consider:  

  • Couples Therapists 
  • Divorce Counselors 
  • Trauma Therapists  
  • Addiction Counselors 

You’ll need to do some research to identify prospects who fit what you’re looking for. Inquire about their experience and ask if they can help you. First impressions matter. However, keep in mind that credentials and experience should come first, too. 

  • Set Goals  

Everyone will have different motivations for seeking counseling. There is no right or wrong reason to seek out a mental health counselor’s assistance. However, knowing why you need help and what you hope to achieve would be beneficial. 

If you are clear about your problem and what you need assistance with, it will be much simpler for your counselor to know what is happening. Successful counseling necessitates some level of introspection on your part. So, it would help if you determined what you want to achieve by attending the session.  

  • Be Open And Honest  

Being honest and upfront can be challenging, especially if you’ve become insecure and distrustful of others. It helps if your therapist is kind and accommodating. However, developing trust with them will still take some time. Being truthful and transparent might be one of the most difficult things you could do. But that’s the only way to get to the truth. 

Trying to process your feelings while thinking back on your past experiences could be painful. But it would be best if you thoroughly considered everything. You must be open and honest with your therapist and yourself. You will have to go through some uncomfortable moments to find the truth that will set you free. 

Remember, being open and honest is fine since there’s confidentiality between you and your therapist. So, you should be free to speak from your heart.  

  • Manage Expectations  

Goals are vital, but it’s also essential to manage your expectations. Recognize that therapy probably won’t cure all your problems. The good news is that although life is unpredictable, you can still make positive changes. 

You have an extremely flexible and malleable mind. Because of this, you can develop new behaviors and undo old, fruitless ones.

Expecting that one session will be able to resolve all of your issues is unreasonable. It will take a few sessions for your counselor to grasp your circumstances and suggest a course of action. 

You should also be aware that your therapist or counselor is also a human being. They’re not omniscient. To expect a counselor to know the answers to all your inquiries is to set yourself up for disappointment. 

It’s much better to expect they won’t have answers to everything. But they might have the skills and experience to support you through whatever you’re going through. 

  • Schedule Proper Appointment Times 

Keep in mind that these sessions are very engaging and conversational. Your therapist will need you to be open and honest, which calls for you to express or unpack your feelings and thoughts. So, you should consistently attend these sessions at times that are most convenient for you. 

After therapy sessions, some people don’t mind going back to work or school. But attending the sessions after work or school may be better for you. Knowing yourself and your preferences will help you select a convenient time. 

Here’s a general rule: On your first day, try to make the appointment on an off day or when you aren’t busy.  

  • Realize That It May Take Time 

You may not feel like you’ve progressed in the first few sessions. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t progress. 

Understand that therapy is a continuous process and that lasting transformation takes time. It can take more than a few sessions to address or resolve your issues fully. You must be willing to accept that it can take weeks, months, or even years before you start to see results. 

Remember, you’ll need some time to reflect after your visits. That’s why visits are usually spread apart. Some visit once a week, twice a month, or even once a month. Whatever the case, realize that seeing results may take time.  

  • Ask Questions  

If you have any questions for your counselor, don’t hesitate to ask. This is an opportunity to ask questions you couldn’t ask other people around you. You can ask as many or as few questions as you would like. Your therapist may not have all the answers, but they can guide you to the answers.  

  • Give Yourself Credit 

Mental health has long been stigmatized. It’s often the case that people downplay the state of their mental health because of societal pressures. Someone may appear “fine” on the exterior yet suffer internally. 

Despite your situation, it’s critical to understand that seeking treatment and acknowledging that you are having an episode is a sign of strength. You ought to be proud of yourself for going to a therapist. If you’re already going to therapy, you should also credit yourself for coming this far. It should be a motivator for you. 

Furthermore, realize that you’re doing a good thing for yourself by attending therapy. Your future self will thank you for what you’re doing to better yourself now. 

Conclusion  

Life is unpredictable. Chaos is built into the fabric of life. However, while you can’t do much to change life’s realities, you can do something about how you deal with whatever life throws at you. In that sense, you aren’t helpless. 

Instead of fighting change, you ought to embrace it. Realize that you deserve to have peace and happiness in your life. If you’re experiencing any issues affecting your mental health, realize it’s okay to ask for help. Life isn’t easy. But trying to do everything alone won’t help you become better. 

Do yourself a favor and look for a therapist to help you get your mind and emotions in the right state. Be open and honest about what’s troubling you. The only way to free yourself from your past pain, confusion, or trauma is to confront it. Understand that it will probably take time for you to see the results. But it will be worth it in the end.

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