The truth is, counseling is work.
It's hard to take a really good look at ourselves. In fact, many of us have developed really amazing and destructive coping skills to avoid having to do just that.
Counseling can cause us to feel anxious, overwhelmed, even exhausted. Sometimes we can leave counseling sessions feeling lighter than air. Sometimes it feels like we have unearthed things we had long dismissed or tried to forget. Counseling is a process - that's why it takes multiple sessions to try to deal with issues with which we are living.
The hope in counseling rests in that, through this work, we free ourselves from those aspects of our lives to which we have become beholden in ways which impede our happiness and prevent our knowing peace. Counseling helps us adapt, grow, and move forward.
As with nearly anything in life, we get out of counseling what we put into it. The therapist, whoever they may be, can only work with what we are willing to bring to the session. The therapist's job, my job, is to bring my expertise, my experience, and my openness to sharing your journey to help you find your light. Your job, what you have to bring, is your expertise in the one reality that no one in the world knows better: you.
Some ask about the need for medication, and no doubt, it is important to access psychiatric services for many. My experience has taught me that medications alone do not create transformative experiences and for those who need meds, therapy alone will not either. It is important to determine the best course of action to move forward which is something you and your therapist will need to discuss. Referrals can always be made if appropriate.
The other great question is "How many sessions does it take?" That depends on a lot of factors with you being largely at the center of them all. Are you ready to do the work it is going to take to move you forward? Sometimes, while we can identify the problem, we are not yet ready to face it. And, then it is important to consider your expectations? Many are seeking a concept of "closure." It means many things for many people, and it is important that there is clarity around this issue between your therapist and you. I have read a great deal about the concept of closure and I have not found convincing evidence that "closure," as a finite end to pain or hurt truly exists or can be achieved. I believe that we adapt, we grow, and we learn how to live in a landscape that is different from what we have known or have previously believed to be true and cannot be fundamentally returned to its former state. I do not know that we ever get over the losses we suffer. I think we learn to manage our grief over time and we adapt to a life that is different than what we have known. It does not mean that we ever feel the same without them.
Whatever it is that brings you into counseling, it is important to know that you and your therapist are committed to moving forward, that the hard truths can and will be faced, and that there is gentle accountability for ourselves and our actions while in session. Commitment is key and it is okay to be afraid or anxious. We just do not want to let that get in the way of doing the thing we know we need to get healthy.
And its okay if you are not there yet! When you are, reach out. There will be folks, like me, waiting to take the walk with you.