I Think I Need Counseling. Now What?
November. The days are getting shorter and colder. The semester is winding down, and finals are looming. The holidays are coming, too, and with them comes all the unique stress that being around family can bring.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit down and depressed. Perhaps you are experiencing an eating disorder or anxiety. Maybe you have realized that you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, pornography, or drugs. The thought pops into your head:
“I think I need counseling.”
First, I want to affirm you. Going to counseling is a big step and can often be scary. Thank you for your courage to take the first step by reading this post!
If you are still on the fence about counseling, check out my previous blog post about my own journey with mental health and seeking counseling. Be not afraid! If you are ready to take the next steps and find a counselor, here are some practical tips to help you out:
1. Find the right counselor.
It is important to find a skilled professional who will respect your worldview and faith. If possible, it is always helpful to work with a therapist who shares your deepest values. One great resource is www.catholictherapists.com. Working with a Catholic therapist is a beautiful way to integrate faith into the healing process.
Look for a counselor who specializes in the area you want to address. For example, you may want to look for a therapist who practices CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) for issues like depression or anxiety, a therapist certified in eating disorders or a therapist with a CSAT for struggles in areas such as pornography and sexual addiction.
2. See if it’s a good fit.
Finding a counselor who is the right fit is a bit like going out on a first date. Go in with an open mind and see if it feels natural. Ask questions and get to know the counselor. If they’re a good fit, great! If not, they won’t be offended if you thank them for their time and tell them you don’t think it will be the best fit. There’s nothing wrong with you if you have to try out a few counselors before you find the right one. You are talking about some deeply personal stuff from your life; you want to be comfortable with the person you are sharing that with.
3. Know what to expect at your first session.
During a first session, the counselor will do their best to make you comfortable. They will greet you and welcome you into their office (or make you feel welcome with some small talk if you are on the phone or video chat). You will have to sign some simple forms, and the counselor will explain their therapy style and expectations. You will be asked what brought you to counseling, a little about your background and what your goals and desires are for counseling. At the end, you will discuss a plan moving forward. If it is not a good fit, you can thank them and move on. If it is a good fit, you can make a plan to meet again.
4. Ask yourself some questions.
These are good questions to contemplate: How did I feel before the session? How did I feel during? How did I feel after? Was I able to easily open up to this therapist? Did I like their therapy style? Did they see where I was coming from? Did I feel heard? Do they share my worldview and faith? If not, do they respect my faith and my goals in therapy?
Again, thank you for your courage! The Lord has great things in store for you, and it won’t always be easy — but sometimes, the Divine Physician needs to perform surgery on our hearts, and it is so worth it! He desires you to be happy, healthy, and holy. He desires it so much that He has gone to hell and back for you! The Lord knows your heart, He knows your pain — and He will be with you as you begin this process. You will be in my prayers as you continue your healing journey.
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!
If you are currently experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741-741 for assistance.