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What is Counseling? Can it help me?

Counseling is the act of sharing space with a therapist, who utilizes a variety of tools, therapy types (we call them modalities), and validation/empathy to help you understand yourself better and create change in your life. Perhaps you've been curious about what actually happens in the therapy room. You've pictured therapy like it's been portrayed on TV or movies, and lying on a couch just doesn't sound like your jam. Well, I'm here to tell you that the counseling profession has come a long way from the Freudian days where we interpreted your subconscious desires while reclining on an uncomfortable piece of furniture.

Therapists today use research-backed methods to help people heal. For example, I use parts of TEAM-CBT, EMDR, Internal Family Systems, Motivational Interviewing, and other methods to give clients actual results. The profession is warmer, more real, and more inclusive. It's becoming socially acceptable to see a counselor regularly, no matter what is going on in your life. You don't have to have big 'T' trauma (what we typically identify in the business as damage from events largely outside of our control, like abuse, neglect, sexual assault, natural disasters, combat experience, etc.) to walk through the doors of a therapist for the first time. In my experience, people often have a mixture of traumatic events and unhelpful messages about themselves that they've picked up over the course of their life.

Many clients come to me and say, "I don't know why I feel so bad about this issue. I feel stupid for feeling sad about being teased in high school, or my parents forgetting a milestone or event in my life." And the counseling relationship is the one place they are able to grieve the 'problems' they feel aren't "big enough or bad enough." We work together to come to a place of confidence and peace about whatever issue brought them to me. Counseling is collaborative, so it should feel targeted and warm. You should feel welcomed and excited to see your therapist. Yes, you might be opening up old wounds, so it might be painful at times, but your counselor has your best interests at heart and will go at your pace.

At its best, therapy is a place where people can feel safe. Counselors can offer advice, mindfulness strategies, perspective and compassion. They can help you make sense of a very chaotic world. It can be freeing to state your thoughts out loud, and have your therapist say, "That thought seems normal, given everything you've been through." Or my favorite response, "You did the best you could with what you had at the time."

Now let's address the question you originally asked: "Can counseling help me?" I might be biased, but yes, I believe therapy helps anybody who wants help. Think of it this way: let's say you were injured on the battlefield and the wound had to be closed up quickly to stop the bleeding. There was no disinfectant used, and they sewed it up with jagged stitches. It was good enough. However, as time passes, the wound still hurts when touched. There's scar tissue on top, but underneath there's infection. You decide to see a specialist who opens up the wound, debrides it, and closes it up using the appropriate tools. Counseling works a lot like this. People come to therapy with lacerations from the battlefield of life. We open up old emotional injuries that probably have lots of scar tissue protecting them. We clean them out of all the old unhelpful messages, scary images, and pain. By facing the past in all its messiness, we can achieve peace whenever something brushes up against our scars in the future.

If you're ready to wade into deep waters, create new goals, and find the grit and resilience you always had inside you, drop me a line below or call me. I'd love to be part of your path to healing. We can navigate towards creativity and freedom together. For more tips, and inspiration, please follow me at Instagram and Facebook at Gift of Grit Counseling, LLC.

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