I’ve recently ventured into the world of virtual counseling and am loving it so far. The fact that online counseling can bring mental health support to people who “traditional” or face to face counseling doesn’t work for is amazing. This virtual world has brought a lot of different people “into my office” all with 1 common beginning – something is causing them distress and they want to feel better.
I do a lot of advocating for mental health support. I believe that this part of the job is the most important, more so than sessions with clients, because it opens up conversations about why it is necessary and important. After mass murders like what happened in Florida over the last week – it always makes me think about how polarized people often are. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 5 issues that have 1 overwhelming message - us vs. them. Our world is so full of stress and yelling – I myself have gone on a huge media freeze over the last approx. 6 months. I just needed to spend more time focused inward. I’ve turned to podcasts and Tedtalks to accompany me on my commutes to different places. I’ve searched online for more tv shows and movies for my husband and I to watch together. And I’ve been absent from Facebook. This post isn’t about me - it’s about why counseling? Why introspection?
Living your best life – This phrase has definitely become a catch phrase lately; all the cool kids are using it. Are you living your best life aka. Are you the best version of yourself? Do you feel confident in your ability to identify what you need, when you need it and make it happen? Do you ask for support/allow support when you need it? Do you set healthy boundaries with others. Living your best life doesn’t mean – are you happy 100% of the time? Do you have 100% of what you want? It means are you kicking ass and taking names? Good questions – if the answer is no, counseling may be right for you.
Judge Judy – friends and family have your best interests at heart. I’d bet that when you talk to mom or bestie about a problem they pump you up – it’s them not you! Don’t feel like that! That’s not true! While well intention-ed, and sometimes helpful, your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you a story. They’re trying to give you clues into your needs and wants – yes, even the yucky feelings. Do you judge yourself and others? Do you push away or ignore the way that you feel? – if the answer is yes, counseling may be right for you.
Radical acceptance – mind blown. I remember the day I learned this concept, sitting in a training with about 10 other counselors, I was so irritated; what a ridiculous concept. I love the quote – We can either make our selves happy or miserable; the amount of work is the same (Carlos Castaneda) – now this sounds a little insensitive, and I assure you this is a subject matter that is typically introduced a little deeper into the counseling process (at least in my line of practice). It’s true – there are things in life that are not changeable. I work in downtown Detroit, I live in Oak Park – my commute to work is 13 miles. It takes 50 minutes to drive 13 miles during rush hour both ways. Some mornings man am I frustrated! Inching a long. But I can’t change this, I can’t make the traffic move faster. So I sit in traffic. Now, I can change jobs, or leave home earlier or later to avoid the traffic, but the truth remains during rush hour it’s a 50 minute drive. So – what’s the point of stressing? I can either be stressed and frustrated – or I can put those feelings down. Radical acceptance – the commute as it is, I can’t change the commute. Period. If you can relate to the serenity prayer – grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference – and your struggling with that last part RE wisdom – counseling may be right for you.
Bottom line, counseling is a support for you as a human, as a mother, father, daughter, son, uncle, neighbor, classmate, student, waiter – it’s a support to help you live the best version of yourself.