Why I’ve been seeing a counselor, and why I’m writing about it publicly.

by Lesley on August 8, 2012 · 13 comments

in lessons learned

I think I mentioned that I’ve seen a counselor over the last 3-4 months. I feel very vulnerable sharing this information, because there are a lot of stereotypes that come with seeing a counselor.

I really don’t want you to see me as weak, or crazy, or overly dramatic, or highly emotional, or, or, or…you get what I’m saying, right?

The thing is, I am weak sometimes. We all are. And last April I felt particularly so. I decided to see Lori, a counselor who came highly recommended by a lot of our friends in Sacramento. I showed up feeling two emotions: hopeful she could help me work through some of the tough stuff from the past year, while also feeling ashamed I needed her help.

I know at least one person out there reading can relate to me. If you’re that person, I’m writing this for you.

I want you to know that counseling has been transformative in my life, and in my relationship with Jonathan. I want you to know that if you’re willing to be honest with yourself, and if you’re willing to make changes in you’re life, counseling might be the best thing you ever do for yourself. I want you to know that if we all did a better job admitting our weaknesses, we’d find that everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. And really, that’s why I’m being so honest today. Almost every single time I have confided to someone that I’ve seen a counselor, one of the following things has happened:

They’ve admitted they also see a counselor.

They’ve admitted they want to see a counselor, but are too scared/don’t have the money/feel ashamed/don’t know who to see.

So, here’s my charge to you today. If there’s any part of you that can relate to the second statement above, PLEASE do whatever you need to do to talk to someone. Change your budget to fund a few hours each month. Change your misconceptions and make an appointment. Take the time to ask friends for recommendations about who to see. And then, go in with a willing heart because this might be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

Also, I want to thank a few women in my life who were brave enough in the past to admit they see counselors. Girls, you know who you are… and your honesty is what helped me to break past the stigma around counseling. Thank you.

{P.S. Most of what I’ve discovered in counseling is not something I’m willing to write about here, but there is one big AH-HA moment I’ll share because it’s applicable for almost anyone. I hope it will be helpful for you, too!}

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13 comments
Lesley
Lesley

Robin- thank you for commenting about your experiences. Indeed- praise God!

Robin in New Jersey
Robin in New Jersey

The best thing I ever did for myself, my marriage, and my family was to go to counseling! I see a lovely Christian licensed counselor. She has helped me figure out the truth from the lies. I am so much stronger in the Lord today than I was 4 years ago thanks to her help. I had stopped going for almost a year, but started again a couple months ago due to some choices a person in my life was making that were effecting me negatively. Praise God for a woman who really cares and wants to help.

Lesley
Lesley

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. I am really encouraged by how many of you already see counselors whether it's regularly or just checking-in every once in awhile. To answer LC's question, I used word of mouth to find the person I've been seeing. Churches and pastors will often have great recommendations too, but I would specifically look into group practices that employ many different counselors in one building. Group practices will sometimes list counselors bios including their areas of interest and expertise. Just like doctors, therapists often have different specialties. Some might work more with teens or families, others specialize in addiction, while some might like working with people going through big life changes (which is what we needed!) If you see someone and don't click, it might then be easier to change persons. Here is another great post to read if you're debating seeing a Christian counselor who is not licensed versus a licensed therapist. If you are a Christian, my advice would be to try and find a licensed therapist who is also a Christian. http://laurennicolelove.tumblr.com/post/29131281158

Randi Riggs
Randi Riggs

What wonderful honesty! You are so right when you say we are all fighting some sort of battle. Hopefully seeking help and guidance won't always come with feeling ashamed, and will actually be encouraged in our society. Thank you for sharing.

Michelle
Michelle

Lesley, thanks for writing-- I have seen different counselors throughout various seasons of life and am always grateful for the insight and support they bring. I remember growing up I kinda thought it was "normal" for people to see counselors because my parents went to one. At age appropriate times they shared with us that it helped them to have a better relationship and learn how to love each other better when they went to see a counselor. It's something I hope to pass down to my kids one day.

LC
LC

Can you tell us how you found the person you see? Finding someone is tough. Did you use word of mouth, or look up people using their profession networks?

Clare
Clare

I am so glad you felt strong enough to post about this! This is a sterotype that is so terribly wrong and off base. I have seen a counselor off and on since high school and my sister sees one regularly. They have helped us through some of the most difficult times in our lives.

Jacqueline Jenkins
Jacqueline Jenkins

I am a firm believer that ALL people should see counselors/therapists. We are ALL flawed beings, and talking through thoughts and feelings with unbiased counselors is so good for the soul. While I know that God's ears are always open, I like to think of good counselors as a branch from Heaven to give us that face-to-face that us humans crave. You are definitely not alone on this topic. Be proud that you are taking care of yourself so you can better take care of your family!!

Rhett Smith
Rhett Smith

I love this post...I'm going to be sharing it with some clients and some friends. Thanks. rhett

Kelli Breton
Kelli Breton

I love Lori!! I hope I never see her in "real life" though. Just in her office. haha. I really hate that stereotype as well. It is a GREAT thing for ANYONE to start doing. It is amazing how much freedom, healing, peace, etc it brings. I used all of the same excuses for a long time too, but am so happy to be past all of them! This is not always an easy thing to talk about. Good for you for being brave and confident enough to share your experiences! I really value and respect people who take the time to help themselves. It seems to be a rare thing nowadays. Looking forward to reading next week's post!

Ashlee
Ashlee

I really appreciate your honesty on this topic. I feel like I've had many "I NEED TO GO TO THERAPY" moments in my life, but I've never taken the plunge and actually done it. Part of me regrets not seeing someone while I was pregnant because I was working through a lot of fears and guilt during that time. Similar to the stigma and stereotypes you've mentioned, I think I've always thought that I needed to be on the verge of a mental breakdown to see a counselor. Which, I'm sure, is like waiting until your teeth are falling out before seeing the dentist.....much more painful, and much more work. Life tends to be a lot better when we practice preventative care. So, bravo to you. I'm looking forward to reading about your ah-ha moment!

Laura Good
Laura Good

I fit into the first statement. Counseling is the best investment I ever made in my own life and also in the lives of those who have to live around me! I am a better, stronger, happier person because of the work I did with my counselor. And for those of you who either struggle with addictions (in the past or currently) or whose life is impacted by someone who does (either as a child or now--that was me) you absolutely will benefit from spending some time with a counselor. But you don't need a reason this obvious to benefit from time invested in counseling. And if I can share advice, even though it's not my blog (thank you Lesley!) don't be afraid to try a few different counselors if the first one doesn't feel quite right. I "test drove" four before I settled on the one that helped me change my life. I ultimately entrusted my guided journey to a Christian counselor who was aligned with my world view. I often hear the objection "it costs too much," but it can yield a hundredfold in terms of your satisfaction in life and in your relationships. In retrospect, it likely did more for me than my college education (which was way more costly!). Thank you for sharing on this subject Lesley. I wish more people could discover themselves through counseling.

Laura Doyle
Laura Doyle

LOVE. I started seeing a counselor/therapist shortly after E was born and it was the best decision ever and I've wondered many times since then why I didn't start earlier. I need to find someone new since our move, but I plan to!