Stuff Therapists Know
I hear people’s stories all day long.
It’s been this way since I entered the field – whether or not they are paying customers, when people hear that I’m a counselor, one of two things happen. Either they stop talking altogether, because they have a negative idea about what counseling is (“you’re psychoanalyzing me right now, aren’t you?” is one that we hear a lot), or they brain-dump everything that is currently happening in their lives and look for a response expectantly.
After so many years, we begin to expect it.
Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash
But since hearing so many people’s stories, there are a few things that counselors know that many people don’t realize, so I’m going to lay them out here for you.
1. People’s stories are relatively similar.
My point here is this: your story isn’t going to be anything that we haven’t heard before on some level.
Your problems feel really hard, and are really hard to experience.
But the truth is that telling us what’s happening isn’t going to overwhelmingly burden us.
We have heard stories of horrible, disgusting, awful trauma. We have worked with people that live in their cars, or abuse their children, or have suffered at the hands of others.
Many of us have been in the position to empathize with both perpetrators and victims throughout our careers.
Many of my clients have started a session stating, “I bet you’ve never heard anything this crazy before,” or “I bet you think I’m a lost cause.”
I often am asked “Am I the worst case you’ve ever had?”
Nope. The honest truth is probably no.
I’m not there to rate you on a scale of 1 to Crazytown.
I’m in that room because I believe that people can and do change, and are able to get results when they put time and effort into it.
I am there to give you the support you are looking for and help you to reach your goals.
2. Everybody could use counseling.
Let’s say that you haven’t experienced any of the trauma or horrific stories I referred to in #1. Let’s say that your story isn’t that dramatic.
I would still tell you that counseling would be great for you.
Because it isn’t just for mental health disorders.
Generally speaking, counseling can help anyone that is interested in living better.
If you want to grow and be a better version of yourself, counseling is for you.
And I mean, on the opposite side of that, if you don’t want to be a better version of yourself and believe you have peaked……... counseling is probably for you, too.
3. Even counselors need counseling.
If your counselor makes time for counseling over the years they are in practice, you probably have a really great counselor.
With all of the stories that I referred to in #1, it can take a toll on people, regardless of how professional they are, or how long they have been in the field.
Counselors that are self-aware enough to know that they need to process through their own feelings about a situation, or that take the time to prioritize self-care are the ones that you WANT to have.
Remember, going to counseling doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. It means that you have something that you need another set of ears for, an outside person to process with, or even just someone to vent to.
Counselors need all those things because they are human, just like you.
As a sidenote here, I’d like to point out that clients have told me stories about their counselors who they know could’ve used their own counseling, and how that experience has effected them as a client.
If that has been your experience, please don’t rule out trying a different counselor. There is a lot to be said about finding someone who is the “right fit” for you.
There are a lot of us, and the good ones aren’t always the ones with 30 years of experience, or that look the same as you.
If you’ve had a bad experience but still want the “ideal” support, I’d challenge you to reach out to someone else and try again. Explaining to your new counselor what you are looking for and how your previous therapist made you feel can go a long way to establishing your comfort within a new setting.
What about you? What do you think your counselor is thinking when you are there? Or, what assumption keeps you from making that call to start therapy? Are you ready to get started? Contact me here for a free consultation!
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor serving South Carolina. She provides relationship and identity counseling online for busy moms and professionals. You can read more about her here.