Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
Though many people would not admit to thinking this, a lot of us think that counseling is for the weak. I can manage my own issues, thank you very much. We’re ok if certain friends, family members or coworkers decided to get some counseling, because they could obviously benefit from it, but we get a little uncomfortable with making that call for ourselves.
Why is this?
I think underlying it, we do believe counseling is only for the weak, and we just don’t want to be weak.
Everybody needs help from time to time and counselors, like doctors and nurses, are people trained to help us work through emotional issues. Here are some reasons why everyone could benefit from joining the “weak ones” and sitting down with a counselor:
Everybody has trauma
Trauma can be a scary word. But we all have experienced trauma to some degree. At HopeNet we talk about Big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma. Not everybody experiences the Big T – abuse, severe neglect, rape, war, death of a child —but we all will experience little t trauma. This can be relationship issues, bullying (though this could also be in Big T), weather events, health issues, breakups, etc. Both big traumas and small traumas can get the way of our growth and ability to move forward. A counselor can help you process those traumas and put them into perspective. She can also give you tools to manage any anxiety or tension when confronting those triggers again.
This one seems obvious, but surprisingly it is one of the biggest impediments to getting help. We have such a hard time remembering and accepting that our brains are part of our bodies and that they sometimes need medical attention. Breakthroughs in neuroscience are bringing more and more evidence of how the physical workings of our brains impact how we process information and even how we feel! The recent movie Concussion brings this to light. Check out some of Dr. Dan Segal’s work on the brain as well for more evidence here and here. Along with your doctor, a counselor or therapist can help you sort out biological, chemical or hormonal issues that might be affecting your mood, your ability to self-regulate or the way you’re processing information.
Everybody has a dysfunctional family
Poet and memoirist Mary Karr is famous for saying “A dysfunctional family is any family with more one person in it.” For the most part, I think we all recognize that as true. A good therapist will help you look at the good, the bad and the ugly of your family and upbringing. This is not to shame or be disrespectful to your family, but in recognition that all families are dysfunctional and no one has done marriage, parenting, conflict, or time management perfectly. The counseling process can help you heal from wounds you forgot about and didn’t realize how they were still affecting your everyday decision making. It can help you from passing on the uglier dysfunctions to the next generation.
Everybody needs grace
Giving ourselves grace is often the hardest learning curve. We are great at beating ourselves up; at turning over every mistake; at forgetting we’re human; at forgetting that Jesus already paid it all. A good counselor will call you out at your attempts to be superhuman. He can help you learn to talk to yourself like a friend and give yourself grace.
True freedom is being able to admit our weaknesses and ask for help. Perhaps counseling really is for the weak—but we are all weak. And the truly weakest person is one who thinks he does not need help. “But he said to me, ” ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.