About Counseling

 

 

Counseling can be useful for many people in many situations. 

 

Lots of people see mental health counselors to help them figure out how to deal with tough emotions and situations.Counselors help people recognize their positive coping skills and help them build new ones to be able to tackle the challenges of life. Because people come into counseling with a variety of issues, personalities, life experiences, situations and at different times in their lives,  it is difficult to say what an average counseling session is like.

Having said that, if you think you are overly moody, depressed, anxious, angry, confused or are otherwise having difficulty, counseling may help. 

Okay, but what is counseling? Counseling is not about giving advice.  I like to say that counseling at its best helps people figure out how to make their lives look more the way they want them to.  The counseling process is a way of making room for people to: 1) find ways to identify and prioritize things that are important to them personally; and  2) recognize and figure out how to deal with the issues that get in the way of living their lives according to the priorities and values that are important to them. 

 

 

It's your life, and figuring out how to deal with your real life situations in good ways is your job. Having said that, there are often times when getting some help from a counselor is useful. Sometimes we are simply too close to our situations or emotions to see them clearly. Other times situations are really complex and there is no one simple answer. Healing from trauma or dealing with stressful situations can be very difficult, for example. Other times we just need some reassurance or someone to bounce ideas off of. For some people, certain strong emotions (such as sadness or anger) might be getting in the way of solving issues. At times like those, seeing a counselor can really be useful.

 

Just as counseling issues themselves differ, so do counselors. Good mental health professionals will have some sort of a Background and Philosophy Form that gives you an idea of their background, training, and other information about their approach(es) to working with people (it's actually required by state law). This form can help you get a sense of whether or not this person’s style might fit with your needs. Mine is here: Policies and Agreement form.  

 

The form above is one way to check out a counselor or therapist. Checking out web sites can also be helpful -but you already know that:-).  It's also perfectly acceptable to call up different counselors and ask them questions about how they see counseling and about how they try to help people. Before you pick a person to work with, try to get a sense of who they are, and a sense of whether they will be a good support person for YOU. Feeling good about talking to a counselor (as in do you feel supported when you talk to them) is important. In fact, research shows that feeling comfortable enough with the person you are working with (so that you can trust the process) is consistently one of the most reliable ways to predict whether counseling will help. Make sure any important values you hold will be respected by whoever you work with. As for me: please check out the other tabs at the top of this page to get more of a sense of my style.

 

There are lots of types of counseling or therapy that can be useful for different people and at different times in a person's life.  At the bottom, I've linked to a page showing a wide variety of approaches counselors/therapists take.  You can read which ones I like to use in the same Policies and Agreement form I linked to earlier. The link below will take you to another site called GoodTherapy.org. By the way, that website is a great place to find out more about all kinds of things related to counseling and mental health. 

What do the letters mean?  

LMHC is a Washington state license abbreviation for Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Other common designations in Washington are LMFC and LCSW or LICSW. These are all Master's level professionals. In Oregon the designation of LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) is also similar. MFCC is also used in some states.  The letters behind a name mean that a person has a certain level of education and knowledge. This is important in many ways, but the "fit" between you and a counselor is also very important.

 

  • Here's a link on What To Expect from a counselor or other mental health professional.

 

 

 

Additional information