By Hannah Aslin, MAC
There are a lot of individuals out there who are wary of counseling for a variety of reasons, whether it be because they are skeptical that it will work for them, they’ve heard about others’ maybe not-so-great experiences, and steer clear of putting themselves through a similar scenario, or, and this one comes up more often than you’d think, people don’t think their “problems” or mental health struggles are severe enough to warrant counseling. I hope that through sharing what my counseling looks like, I can shed light on all of these circulating questions, but especially the last one.
Laying on the couch and other myths
I’m sure that I’m not the only one who before participating in counseling and getting into the field had a very stereotypical idea of what counseling looks like (mostly because of movies): client laying on some type of chair or couch and being asked super intimidating and personal questions (some that I was pretty sure if asked I wouldn’t even know how to answer because of their seemingly rhetorical nature) by a monotone therapist wearing glasses and using a notepad to document everything being said within the session.
Based on that, I can understand why these questions and uncertainties still exist for a lot of people. But, the good news, not all counseling is like that. Mine isn’t. At all. What I strive for in both talk therapy with adults and adolescents, and play therapy for young children, is for the client to be in the driver’s seat.
I’m just along for the ride and journey to healing and processing. I like to view the therapeutic process as a collaborative one that allows the client to feel pride for the heavy-lifting they are doing both in and out of session. Will that work for everyone? Maybe not. The important thing to note is that you won’t know unless you try. And I’m 100% open to trying and putting in the necessary work if the client is.
Within my counseling, I am very client-centered, strengths-based, solution-focused as well as CBT-oriented and utilize these for a lot of common issues that come through my door, including, anxiety, depression, anger, eating disorders, relationship issues, and addictive behaviors. You may wonder if being eclectic would lessen the effectiveness in treating these common issues, but I think that it shows the opposite.
Counseling for all goals big and small
Counseling isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it shouldn’t be. I aim to meet the client where they are and base the process and my approach based off of their needs. I think something that holds true across the board is the fact that I value prevention and wellness.
By that I mean, when a client walks through the door and maybe doesn’t present with severe mental health challenges, I honor the fact that those clients are given the opportunity (as well as myself) to promote wellness and prevention of symptoms before they escalate to more intense mental health struggles.
This is specifically common in children. With the growing numbers of mental health challenges, I enjoy working with children for the fact that within this age group, parents bringing their children in is moving more toward prevention and normalizing talking about emotions, which signals a small shift in ending mental health stigma (booyah!!).
This leads me to my final point of what my counseling looks like and why counseling, to me, is so valuable and important. Many people who are considering counseling doubt their needs and assume that their challenges “aren’t big enough” to get into counseling. See, when people hear that someone goes to therapy, their mind jumps to severe depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia. Yes, while these are very prevalent challenges that many people face, that doesn’t mean that someone going through a difficult breakup or navigating generalized anxiety has an invalid experience invalid or their need for counseling is unwarranted. Counseling is for EVERYONE and EVERY emotion and experience is VALID. Prevention and wellness are my two main goals in my work, so all are welcome here.