In today’s blog post, Rebecca Ryder, MA, NCC, LPCC-S, Encompass Assistant Regional Program Director explores the methods and benefits of counseling along with the importance of a connected relationship with your therapist. As you take ownership of your mental health care, here’s what you can expect from therapy services at Encompass.
It used to seem a bit mysterious and scary to me. Counseling. Therapy. Before I ever explored the profession or what mental health treatment was, I was simultaneously curious and yet suspicious.
What are some of your pre-conceived ideas of therapy? Perhaps you have formed some opinions or feelings about the whole thing which has resulted in some reluctance or avoidance of the process? Maybe you see it as “hog-wash,” a waste of time, a bunch of nonsense. Maybe you are afraid that the therapist will be pushy, judgmental, or see you as “broken” or “crazy.” Maybe you fear that the counselor will mess with your head – or the head of your loved one. Maybe you just have no idea what to expect, and that breeds a sense of distrust and dismissal. Maybe you think that counseling, therapy, or mental health treatment is only for the severely mentally ill. And maybe you’ve had a bad experience with counseling in the past.
You may or may not be convinced of the merits that counseling can provide, but hopefully some of the mystery or fear can be diminished by exploring what it is, what it is not, and what you should be able to expect.
Believe it or not, the biggest job of a counselor/therapist is to work themselves out of a job! Trained and licensed counseling professionals are taught to look through the lens of a client’s presentation so that they can help them develop individual goals to move forward from their current barriers. Therapists are trained to assess and diagnose conditions for the purpose of providing direction and focus to treatment. At Encompass, treatment itself involves an individualized plan that focuses on measurable goals and objectives that aim to meet a client’s needs. The plan also includes the specific interventions that the therapist will be using that fit those specific needs. Together with your therapist, you can decide when these goals have been met and services are no longer needed.
Technicalities aside, it is the face-to-face interaction with a counselor that becomes the most important aspect of treatment. It is not their job to boss you around, make decisions for you, or judge your choices. Therapists are meant to meet you where you are, come alongside, and provide a positive regard for you and your journey. They provide an objective “container” for your story and empathize with the impact it has on your life and functioning. Sure, counselors tend to ask a lot of questions, but that it for the purpose of probing deeper, helping you to identify and build on strengths, and assisting you in making your own decisions. They advocate, encourage, connect you to appropriate resources and supports, and explore barriers to your progress on goals and desires. A therapist’s job is not to do the work for you but to help you find and increase motivation to do the work that will free you from internal and external blocks to better functioning and relationships. Together, they can help you identify and replace unhealthy coping skills with healthy ones so that you can reach your full potential.
It certainly requires a bit of courage and trust to take a step into counseling, but you’re in the driver’s seat and have the power to make the best decisions for yourself when it comes to your own mental health care. The goal is that you will experience a positive therapeutic relationship with whichever counselor you choose.