“Should I see a counselor?”
This is one of the most frequent questions people ask me, so some of you are probably wondering too. Here’s four reasons I tell people to seek counseling:
Reason #1: You are stuck.
We get stuck for all kinds of reasons. Maybe Plan A isn’t working out for your life, and contingency plans B-Z also aren’t working. Maybe you are considering a job change, or breaking off that relationship, or moving, or going into ministry, but…you just can’t move off the dime. You want to move, you want to change, you swear you really do, but you find yourself in the same ol’ tired rut with the same ol’ tired routine and the same ol’ problems. You need to change the system. Going to counseling will create a change–it will stir the waters, give you accountability, and make you face whatever’s holding you back. Eh, doesn’t sound good to you? Then you can keep on being frustrated…or you can get over your pride and realize that you need some help to move forward.
Reason #2: You have a secret.
If this applies to you, you just immediately thought of that thing that you wish never happened but did….
or that thing you secretly do right now that you can’t stop doing.
That’s bondage. That’s pain and sorrow and shame. If you can immediately think of that thing–if you get a cold wash of fear, or your stomach drops, or you feel suddenly anxious–then something is hurting you and keeping you from being free. You might think that it’s just too painful and shameful to face. You might think there’s not another person in this world that can help, that will love you after you admit or confess or face whatever that secret is. And you might worry that your life will change if you face it. Guess what? It will. Facing that secret is the path to freedom. Sure, the road might be rough, but friend, you are currently in bondage. If one question on a screen transports you to a scared and shameful place, you are not free. Counseling is a safe place to share a secret and to begin to find health and freedom, to break the power of that secret. Go.
Reason #3: You’ve lost hope.
If this is you, life has become a terrible shade of gray. It’s as if someone just took your world and made it black and white, bleak and monotonous. You used to look forward to the weekends, or dinner with friends. Work is tough but you still wanted to go. If you were in a tough time, you always held out hope for the next season…but lately, you’ve been feeling just…blah. You don’t look forward to anything, even the stuff you used to enjoy. You can’t think of one thing on your horizon that you are excited about.
Psychologists have a name for this. It’s called anhedonia, which means the “inability to feel pleasure.” This lack of enjoyment & hope is often a sign of depression. You don’t have to know what you want to talk about or why you need a counselor, you can just start with this. You can sit down in front of that counselor and say, “I’m not excited about anything anymore.” They will be able to help you from there. It’s reason enough, I assure you.
Reason #4: You are asking this question.
If you are wondering if you need a counselor, YOU NEED A COUNSELOR. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you are crazy or depressed. It doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at life or you are going to be one of those weird people who quotes their therapist daily and posts the serenity prayer in their office. Going to a counselor doesn’t mean you have a horrible family or a horrible marriage or you are about to run away and leave your kids forever. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you don’t have any good friends who can listen or you aren’t in enough community.
Going to counseling just means you are brave enough to admit you need some help.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some tips on finding a good counselor.
**You might also enjoy my friend Cara’s post, where she shares her own journey to getting help. It’s a brave and honest story and I think it can help you.