I recently put out a question on the Branch of Hope Counseling Facebook page for people to share a word or phrase that first comes to mind when hearing Counseling or Therapy. I was honestly somewhat pleasantly surprised by the response. The responses were slightly more positive than I was expecting. I am hoping this means that the overall view of counseling has improved. There is a chance that majority of people who have a negative view may hae not commented, but I am going to choose to see the glass half full.
There were so many positive and hopeful words and phrases brought to light.
- Peace process, person to listen, help, hope, tools, positive change, progress, healing process, learning how to talk, saved life, healing, support, and confession.
There were also some more difficult words and phrases expressed.
- Issues, broken, overrated, money wasted, hope I don't lose my job, and would it really help?
These are also important to point out because they are the real, raw feelings people have toward counseling. I like that there were some more skeptical or difficult words expressed, because it demonstrates how different experiences and perspectives can be for each individual.
Thank you all who participated in the comments.
About 4 or so years ago, I was chatting with someone and mentioned something learned or talked about in our pre-marital counseling. I honestly can't remember who it was I was talking with, but the person to whom I was speaking responded with a surprised tone. That person then stated something to the nature of, "Oh.... why did y'all go to counseling? Were you having problems or something?"
It was an interesting response to me. That comment got me thinking a lot about other people's view of counseling. Since much of my world since starting college had been surrounded by talk of psychology and counseling, I realized that my view of counseling was likely skewed compared to the average person.
Counseling or therapy can and has been viewed in many ways, and it is different depending on the approach you and/or the counseling is taking. Some people my never attend "profressional counseling", but we all need to be counseled. We are all at different places in our lives, but due to human nature, we all have flaws and all struggle in some way. ALL OF US!!
At points in our lives, we ALL can benefit from learning more about our own communication styles and others. Almost all of us could benefit from understanding more how our experiences have affected the way we view ourselves and the world. Even those of us who have been raised in the most healthy of homes were still raised by and surrounded by flawed people. This results in the need for constant grace and growth.
You may find that I will compare physical health with mental/spiritual health, because it often makes for great analogy. Here's an example. Even that human that was raised in the most healthy of homes and was taught and shown through example healthy ways to cope with life and deal with problems and emotions, that human is not only fallible (as we all are) but also has been exposed to so many other stressors and triggers in his/her life. Health, whether emotional/mental, spritual, or physical requires continual refreshment, work, and even change.
What our 'health' needed at one point may or may not be the same at any other given point in our lives. We need nourishment throughout our entire lives.
- At 2 months old, 100% of our diet being breastmilk or formula is the most healthy we can be. If we continue to only have milk at 2 years old, it is no longer considered healthy.
- When it comes to exercise or physical fitness, a person cannot reach a goal, stop working out, and then meet that same goal in a month or 2.
- And then there are the times that we do not "change" but factors around us change. Ex: I may be the best vegetable choppper around, but when my knife becomes dull, my performance changes.
When it comes to our emotional/mental and relational health, sometimes it's not always as easy to identify the core problem as having dull knife. It also is often not just ONE single trigger or problem that can easily be sharpened or replaced either. Not matter brings a person to seek counsel, it is not a reason to feel shame. We all fall short. There is a place to recognize sin and repent. But shame is never productive.
For those of you who still may feel awkward or shameful to either seek counsel at all or to admit that you have sought counsel, keep this in mind. Most of us are not ashamed to admit we go to the doctor or to even share about the interventions we are receiving, especially when they work! People share about diabetes or other illnesses and we all rejoice with them when medical interventions heal or improve a person's health. Thankfully, I feel that the stigma of counseling and mental health issues is decreasing, but it's still there. Wouldn't it be great if we as a culture felt more comfortable with sharing our emotional/mental struggles? And then as a result, we would be able to support each other through the struggles and then also rejoice with each other when things get better. Let's all work together to move past the stigma and provide a safe, supportive place for ourselves and others to seek whatever counsel we may need.
Sincerely with grace and hope,
Branch of Hope Counseling