Frequently Asked Questions About Facing Life With Personal Counselor’s Help

I had always been an outdoorsy type of girl. It is most likely rooted in the fact that I came from a family of rednecks. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or President’s Day, or any holiday, we often found a reason to stay overnight in the woods. In reality, that was not too difficult to do, considering my grandparents’ backyard practically led to the forest.

My first memory of camping was seven years old, although it was apparently not my first time doing that. Back then, I remembered asking Mom what we would eat in the woods, considering I only saw her packing sleeping bags, water, and cooking materials. She smiled at me and said, “Anything that your Dad and uncles would find there.”

The answer confused me a lot, but it eventually became clear that the forest was full of edible plants that could cost hundreds of dollars in the city. Then, there was a river nearby that was filled with fish. When everyone got tired of swimming, the men brought out their fishing equipment and caught our lunch and dinner in no time. It was the coolest day in my life.

Growing Up

The older I became, the more I learned about camping. When I reached 11 years old, I could set up a tent on my own. By the time I reached my sweet 16, it was already easy for me to start a bonfire with whatever stones and twigs I could find on the campsite. While some of my friends bragged about their cellphones and new clothes, I bragged about my camping skills.

My love for nature pushed me to join a hiking group in college. Almost every month, one member of the organization would suggest three hiking locations, and then we would vote on which one to visit. It used to be a day trip, but when they found out that I was practically a camping expert, we started staying outdoors overnight.

In my second year in college, though, I had to back out from another hiking adventure due to fever. It was accompanied by headache and muscle pain, so I thought I had the flu. The symptoms went away after a week, but then they were replaced by rashes all over my body. I kept thinking of what could cause the inflammation, but I was never allergic to anything. Once my lymph nodes began to swell and my fever returned, I asked my mother to take me to a doctor.

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Receiving A Diagnosis

The family doctor ordered me to get blood tests immediately. I did not initially understand what tests he talked about, but he mentioned Lyme disease to my mother. That’s what got my attention.

“Why are we testing for that, doc?” I asked.

“Well, I know that you spend a lot of time in the woods. Your symptoms may be for a different condition, but it is best to rule out Lyme disease early,” the doctor explained.

After two weeks, my worst fear came true – I got diagnosed with Lyme disease. I could not help but cry because I knew it was an autoimmune disorder and nothing could cure it. My mother allowed me to be sad for a few days, but she noticed that my mood did not change after that; she suggested personal counseling.

What is personal counseling? 

Personal counseling is a type of counseling that occurs when a person has goals that they cannot achieve without a mental health professional’s help.

What are the benefits of individual counseling? 

  • It increases a person’s self-awareness.
  • It encourages people to explore their thoughts and emotions.
  • It helps an individual realize their boundaries.
  • It improves a person’s communication skills.
  • It teaches people how to cope with issues healthily.

What are the types of counseling? 

  • Child pediatric counseling
  • Grief counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • School counseling

How do I give myself counseling? 

  • You can start self-counseling by deciding on what goals to achieve. Whatever it is, you must think about it clearly and realistically so that you won’t fall face-first later.
  • Use your objective and subjective sides when you think about your problems. The reason is that your emotions most likely rule your subjective part; that’s why you cannot find a viable solution. But when you think objectively, the remedy may come more quickly to you than ever.
  • Try to understand your thoughts, emotions, and behavior more deeply. It may be challenging at first, but the task may ease up when you keep a record of your emotional and behavioral changes and assess what causes them.
  • Catch yourself whenever you talk to yourself negatively. That has a massive impact on your mental health. After that, you may counter such thoughts and say something like, “What if I think like this or that instead?” Over time, you will be able to change your way of thinking for the better.
  • Keep in mind that it’s okay not to get self-counseling correctly overnight. You have never done it before, so cut yourself some slack. But the more you try this form of counseling, the more you may get used to it.
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Can you use CBT on yourself? 

Yes, you can use CBT on yourself. Many licensed therapists have put out self-help books that may teach you how to conduct this form of therapy. However, if you have never experienced it first-hand before, you may want to see how it works in person.

Do therapists care? 

Of course, therapists care about their patients. They cannot be effective at what they do if they don’t.

What should you tell your first visit to a therapist? 

Most individuals talk about their problems during their first visit to a therapist and what they have done to fix them. That is how the therapist can gauge how much help the individual needs and how long therapy will last.

Do therapists get attached to their clients? 

Not all therapists get attached to their clients, but it can happen to anyone at any time. Despite that, professional therapists do not act on it and process their feelings outside of the workplace.

What happens in a Counselling session? 

Upon initial contact, the counselor may create an outline of how long a counseling session takes place, how they will communicate with you, and what happens if you go to sessions regularly or miss it. They may also remind you of their confidentiality rule, as well as their promise to listen to you without judgment. More importantly, they will help you realize that counseling does not provide instantaneous results – something good will only come out of it if you make an effort to heed the counselor’s advice.

How do I prepare for my first counseling session? 

The first thing you must do is accept that you are already doing the right thing by setting an appointment with a counselor. Many people cannot take that first step, and for that, you should be proud of yourself.

Once you see the counselor and get past the initial pleasantries, you may start asking them about their process. This is okay even if you have not decided to get their services – most counselors will explain how they conduct counseling, and that will inform you if you should go forward or step backward.

You also need to realize that a professional counseling session is and will always be confidential. They will not post about your social media issues; they will not gossip about you with other patients. Everything that you talk about will only be confined to the four walls of the counselor’s office.

When your comfortability level has stabilized, you may try to figure out your goals for seeking counseling. Is it to find clarity regarding your thoughts and feelings? Is it to get over a painful experience that you have just gone through? There is no wrong goal; the counselor will not make you leave if you cannot develop a plan to achieve them. Despite that, you need to be honest about where you’re at so that the counselor can meet you there and help you from there.

Considering you are scheduled for another counseling session, it may be best to allocate an entire day or at least half a day to it. The reason is that you may want to collect your thoughts and emotions before the session begins. Post-counseling, you may be an emotional wreck. Thus, you need some time to process everything you have learned or discussed during the session.

Furthermore, you must check your expectations. The counselor wants to help you, but they cannot help if you don’t do your part and help yourself. Counseling may not also work after one or two sessions, and that’s okay – healing does not come easily. If it doesn’t, you won’t be seeking mental help.

How do you end a counseling session? 

From the get-go, you need to see the end of every counseling session as a healing experience. You have talked about your problem and gained information on how to deal with it possibly.

You may also end the session by reflecting and summarizing what you have discussed. That is an excellent way to figure out what your next step should be.

Moreover, you need to show some flexibility when the session is about to end. Sometimes, it may seem like a ritual; other times, it may be meditative. The key is to do what feels natural for you and the counselor.

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Is it normal to cry at therapy? 

Yes, it is normal to cry at therapy. After all, you are letting yourself become vulnerable as you open up about your problems. You are bound to shed tears out of frustration, grief, sadness, and even joy in the end.

What questions will a therapist ask me? 

  • Why are you seeking therapy?
  • What coping mechanisms have you tried while dealing with your problems?
  • Is it your first time receiving therapy? If not, how did you fare in your previous sessions with other therapists?
  • How would you describe your childhood?
  • How is your relationship with the people in your life?
  • What are your expectations for this therapy?
  • Have you thought of self-harm or suicide?

What questions do psychiatrists ask you? 

Try not to be surprised if psychiatrists ask open-ended questions, such as, “How have you been?”, “Why are you here today?” or “How can I be of service to you?” This is their way of figuring out how they can help you or how much assistance you need. Just answer them truthfully – it’s okay even if you admit not to be okay.

What can I expect at my first psychiatric appointment?

  • Your first psychiatric appointment may be the most tedious session, considering you need to answer any questions, either verbally or non-verbally. The psychiatrist may also check your medical records and ask you to fill out various forms to determine how best to help you. This process may take up to two hours, so you should allocate a lot of time for it.
  • Psychiatrists are technically medical doctors who focus on mental health, so it should not be shocking to do a quick physical examination. Aside from the necessary procedures like checking your temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure, they may also have your blood tested and require a physical scanning.
  • Although mental health professionals promise to keep your details confidential, it does not mean that you cannot bring a friend or family member to your first psychiatric appointment. As long as you are cool with them being in the same room when the psychiatrist talks to you, that will be fine.
  • The psychiatrist’s primary goal is to know why you seek their services. In case you go to your first appointment with a cluttered mind, you should write down your reason when you feel calm and bring it to the meeting to avoid forgetting about it. Then, you can also keep a pen and paper with you during the session so that you can jot down whatever tips they give to you.
  • Keep in mind that psychiatrists welcome questions about their process or credibility. That is understandable for patients to be curious about, given that you are about to put your mental health in their hands.
  • After the first or second appointment, you can expect the psychiatrist to provide a treatment plan for you.

Final Thoughts

I would be lying if I said that my mood transformed overnight after talking to a counselor. In truth, it took months before I accepted my autoimmune disorder. But when I did, it was like a lightbulb lit up in my head, and I managed to find ways to keep my symptoms from flaring up and still live my life.

 

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