The stigma surrounding counseling makes it harder for many to decide whether they should start or not. Often, people chalk up counseling as something for those who have mental health problems or traumatic experiences. However, if you’re going through a challenging time in life or feel emotionally distraught, there’s no reason you shouldn’t seek counseling.

Counseling is a healthy way to address issues or challenges that you may not necessarily know how to confront. There is no one way to go about a life issue as it depends on each individual. With that, your counselor will collaborate with you to find what mechanisms and tools you already know and what you can learn to cope. It’s also a great way to learn new things about yourself of which you weren’t aware.

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There are many forms of counseling, and one of the more recent ones is solutions-focused counseling. Rather than focusing on problems and past experiences, you and your counselor will work towards a particular goal. Focusing on the present gives you more room to grow, rather than dwelling on issues that have already happened.

The power of this sort of counseling lies within you and your openness to change the way you perceive things. For example, one technique in solution-focused counseling is analyzing how you act in a problematic situation. Once you recognize your behavior, your counselor will help you find anything that you can actively change, such as your response to adverse conditions or negative reactions from others.

This article will address any questions that might stop you from getting the help you need for a better future.

How do I choose the right counselor?

In choosing the right counselor, it’s not enough that you look at the credentials. It is also essential to choose someone you are comfortable opening up to. Some of the factors you might want to look at are the counselor’s age, gender, and religion/philosophy. Based on your preference, would you feel more comfortable opening up to someone younger or older? In most cases, people are more comfortable with someone of the same sex or gender.

How can we make counseling more effective?

Generally, look at counseling as a collaborative effort, which means that you should discuss with your therapist the topics you want to discuss during your session. At the same time, it is also vital to schedule the session on weekends when your mind is not as pre-occupied with work. Ultimately, honesty and openness contribute significantly to the success of the therapy. Your counselor can help you only if you let them see you and understand you truly.

What can a counselor help with?
Counseling is not only for people who have been diagnosed with mental health problems but also for people struggling emotionally and psychologically. A counseling session can help you cope with stress, significant changes in your life, and handle difficult emotions. It can unpack events or issues you may be having difficulty making sense of.

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What is the difference between a therapist and a counselor?

Both counselor and therapist provide some form of counseling to a certain extent, but a counselor cannot conduct psychotherapy. Meanwhile, a psychotherapist can carry psychotherapy but requires more specialized professional training. In counseling, sessions are more like giving advice, wherein the counselor works with the client to arrive at a solution. On the other hand, with a therapist, the treatment is longer-term. Its goal is to reform unhealthy patterns of behavior and emotional problems.

How do I talk to my therapist for the first time?
Use the first session to introduce yourself, your current situation, and your reasons for seeking therapy. You don’t need to tell everything right away, but at least test the waters and see if you are comfortable working with your therapist. You can also use the first session to enumerate the things you want to discuss and address during the therapy.

How do you know you need therapy?

Therapy will help you if you’re having difficulty managing your emotions, especially if it compromises your life. You may also want to consider therapy if you feel like your thoughts keep you from functioning normally and maximizing your potential. Therapy is also necessary if you experienced trauma, have suicidal thoughts, or have unhealthy coping mechanisms, like vices. At the same time, therapy can also be useful if you have difficulties maintaining relationships and relating to others.

Is it normal to cry at therapy?
Yes, crying is a normal therapeutic and purging process. A good cry is a physical release of long-held strong emotions, frustrations, and fears. You should not be worried about crying during a session, therapists understand that, and it’s perfectly fine. However, you should not feel compelled to if you don’t feel like it. The session should be a safe place to release and express your thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.

What will my first therapy session be like?

The first session of therapy is a getting-to-know and orientation session. You have to fill up some paperwork regarding your medical history, contact details, symptoms, etc. Your conversation with your therapist will mostly revolve around unpacking what you have mostly written. The therapist will ask what brought you there, what has been going on in your life, compelling issues, or thoughts. The first session will serve as the guide for the track of the following sessions.

How long should therapy last?

There is not a one-size-fits-all or a fixed number of a therapy session. It depends on your specific progress and needs. Some cases only take about a few weeks, a month, and sometimes even years. Each session usually takes around 50 minutes to an hour.

You might think that the general objective of counseling is to transform you completely. However, counseling helps you acknowledge and highlight the strengths you already have. Ultimately, the overall goal of solutions-based counseling is to tackle a problem so that it no longer affects your life later on.

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With that, there is no right or wrong answer or solution to any challenges you are facing at the moment. Solutions-focused counseling will guide you towards those goals rather than prescribe a specific approach.

In that light, there is also no specific set of people who need counseling. As long as you feel the need to seek help in confronting difficult situations that impact your life, counseling is right for you. 

Before we close this article, if you have any underlying, deep-seated trauma from your childhood or past experiences, you might need to seek a more comprehensive counseling or therapy approach. There is more to mental health issues than surface-level challenges, and you will need the help of a counselor or therapist to tackle these. The reason for this is because solutions-based therapy usually presents short-term techniques.

In any case, it may be uncertain how long therapy or counseling will last for you as it depends on your current situation. However, the key is to start anyway. We hope that we have addressed any confusion or doubts you may have about counseling with this article. Moreover, we hope that this encourages you to seek counseling and work towards a better, healthier life.

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