Mental health conditions are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve in society. However, there is still some way to go before mental health is treated with the same acceptance as physical health.
If you are going through a difficult time, experiencing mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, or have an experience that you are struggling with, the benefits of seeing a counsellor will offer the control and help you need. Unfortunately, many people shy away from seeing a counsellor, maybe because they are worried about admitting to how they feel or are concerned about what others will think. But don’t let this stop you from getting the help you deserve. Research shows one in five Australian adults experiences mental illness every year, so you are certainly not the only person feeling this way.
The benefits of seeing a counsellor far outweigh any of the worries you may have. Here are just some of the benefits that can be gained from seeing a counsellor:
Benefits of seeing a therapist or counsellor
Talk in a Judgement-Free Space
If you are concerned about what others think of you when you talk about your mental health struggles, counselling can help this. When you schedule an appointment to see a counsellor, you will be free to discuss your issues in a judgement-free space. Your counsellor is not there to criticise or tell you to just get on with things; the role of a counsellor is to listen to you without judgement.
Being able to talk freely can be a truly liberating experience, especially if you have spent months or even years bottling up how you feel.
Gain a Fresh Perspective
Talking therapies allow you to express your feelings without fear of judgement. They help you to see things from a fresh perspective. If you have been stuck in a thought pattern or cycle of unhelpful behaviour, it can help get a new perspective on the situation. Seeing things from a different angle can be a valuable way to reframe your thinking and break free from unhelpful behaviour patterns.
Take Time to Focus on Your Needs
Life can be hectic, making it easy to bury thoughts and feelings beneath layers of distraction. This can make you feel you are continuously hiding something from yourself and never being honest about how you feel.
Seeing a counsellor can help you stop hiding from your wants and needs and enable you to pause for a while. Having the breathing space and time to stop and focus on your needs can seem challenging, but ultimately, it is often hugely beneficial in the long run.
Show Yourself That Your Feelings Matter
If you have spent your entire life putting everyone else’s needs ahead of yours, then you may have learned to ignore your feelings. Counselling can help you to acknowledge these feelings and show you that you have the right to be yourself and express how you feel, which can be a life-changing experience.
Things to consider when choosing a counsellor
If you think that a counsellor is right for you, it’s important to remember that you’re hiring an individual who has trained specifically to help with your specific issue. Therefore, when you meet with a counsellor for the first time, don’t feel pressured to share all of your personal information. Instead, it’s essential to ask specific questions to establish whether the counsellor is the right fit for you. For example, you may ask if the counsellor has a background in a particular problem area, such as social anxiety or other forms of social phobia.
Websites to find a counsellor
In addition to your local mental health service, several websites are dedicated to finding a counsellor and have a mental health hotline attached.
- Psych Central has a dedicated directory on their site to find a counsellor – Psych Central Directory. (US Based)
- Better help, a partner of Psych Central, offers affordable online counselling. Better Help.
- Professional counsellors and psychologists in Australia can be found at Australia Counselling.
- GoodTherapy is another directory that can help you find and experience the benefits of a therapist. This directory covers several countries, including the US, but not Australia.
- HealthDirect is a comprehensive Australian government website where you can find a health service, including counselling.
- The Anxiety & Depression Association of America has a therapist directory as well as some great resources.
- If you’d prefer to experience the benefits of seeing a psychologist, The Australian Psychological Society has a ‘find a psychologist’ function.
Some counsellors will accept phone, Skype or in-person appointments.
What to ask your counsellor
Before you see a counsellor for the first time, you need to ensure you are at the right place and have the right questions to determine what you want to achieve. If you are having difficulty with one particular issue, ensure you focus on finding a counsellor equipped to provide support in that specific area.
Many psychologists or counsellors offer several different treatments. The problem with this approach is that it could become difficult to pinpoint a consistent person because they work in different ways, even if you have the same problem. Instead, focus on the different things you want to learn from your counsellor. When talking with a counsellor, it is important to ask questions about their specialty. Do not discount phone consultations.
Where to find a counsellor
While finding a counsellor may take time, it is worth the effort. Ask for recommendations from family, friends or your GP. Google is also helpful for you to find a specialist and take note of any reviews.
Counsellors may also be working with universities or schools as part of counselling programs, as well as others who have some form of psychology training. The person you are seeing may already have a working relationship with a counsellor that can be helpful. Seeking out a counsellor is the first step, but don’t stop there. If your counsellor doesn’t seem to be working for you, move on and find a new one. If you can’t, speak to them about your problems and listen to them.
Although there are benefits of seeing a counsellor, it is not the ‘magic pill’ to all of your problems. It’s about helping you gain clarity about your problems, helping you find a path to a better life. You are not alone, and there are counsellors out there who are willing to listen to you and help you. Make use of this article; it will take you no time at all to find a counsellor. Be easy on yourself. Remember, it is not your fault you are experiencing a problem, so you must see a counsellor who will listen to you and help you.