Counseling. Only for the Weak and Needy?

terry and denise

I’m married to a psychologist. I’m 37 hours + dissertation away from my own Ph.D. in Psychology (I know, I know it is still a lot! But to count it down helps! 2016 seems like such a long ways away!). My daughter is getting her Master’s in Psychology. My son is working on his Bachelor’s in Cyber-criminology. Needless to say our family meals – the few we have since our kids are adults now – are very weird. Weird, as in we talk about strange things. “Psycho-babble”. We are psychology geeks. Or is that freaks?

For me, to seek counseling has zero stigma attached. But… some folks do think that seeing a counselor is something to be ashamed of and try to hide the fact they may be getting professional help.

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t think you should tell your life story to every single stranger you encounter who asks, “How are you, today?” But when is it OK to seek professional help and talk to someone about all the things you DO have trouble expressing to anyone else?

I Feel Like I’m not as Independent…

A friend of mine found out I was seeing a counselor. She knows me well enough that she can ask me nosy questions and I don’t even feel as if she is being – well, NOSY. With her permission, I’m copying the gist of the conversation here:

Her: “You are one of the most independent people I know! Why are you so open about seeing a counselor? Aren’t you afraid people will think you aren’t as strong as you let on? I think if I went to see one I wouldn’t be able to let anyone know!”

Me: “Well it doesn’t work that way. I need someone to listen and who will give me objective advice. If they were my bestie like you, they wouldn’t give it to me straight!”

Her: “Hey. I tell you like it is all the time!”

Me: “Giving me a ‘dose of reality’ is different than being objective from a trained, counselor’s point of view. How can something make me less strong when I walk out of there feeling ‘stronger’?”

Her: “I dunno. I thought you were ‘Ms. Independence’. It seems strange to hear YOU are going to see a licensed counselor!”

Me: “You are missing the point. I’m seeing a counselor so that I can continue to be independent about the right things, but am also learning to be dependent in a healthy way. Geesh this life is hard enough without trying to ‘go it alone’. We all need help from time to time!”

She remains unconvinced, but hey! I think she’s coming around.

So Should you see a Counselor?

So how DO you know if you should see a counselor?

Psychology Today has a great little “self test” that helps you determine if you should seek therapy. You can find it here: CLICK HERE

Another great little quiz to help you make this determination can be found here at Psych Central’s website: CLICK HERE

The Huffington Post put out a great article in February, “8 Signs You Should See a Therapist”. You can find that article here: CLICK HERE

Those 8 “signs” include:

1. Everything you feel is intense

2. You’ve suffered a trauma and you can’t seem to quit thinking about it

3. You have unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system

4. You’re using a substance to cope

5. You’re getting bad feedback at work

6. You feel disconnected from previously beloved activities

7. Your relationships are strained

8. Your friends have told you they’re concerned

People with disability or living with invisible, chronic illness can benefit from counseling. Whether you are struggling to cope, grieving “something lost”, feeling angry or depressed, or just feeling overwhelmed, seeking help can prove very beneficial. It doesn’t make you weak. If anything, it shows how proactive you are about your own mental and emotional health. Recognizing that “all parts” of who we are need to be strong is a sign you are being pretty darn good to yourself!

How do I find Help?

Where do I find help? My favorite “how to” article is several years old, but I still think it’s the best advice I’ve seen. You can check out the article by Dr. Aletta here: CLICK HERE

For me, I had to find someone that was “in network”. I can’t afford to pay for counseling other than a co-pay. Sometimes practices will have pro-rated charges based on your income. For most of us though, we have to go see who our insurance will pay for to help alleviate costs. Depending on your insurance, you can probably find a list of “in network” counselors, therapists, and psychologists. For me, finding someone who had similar faith practices was important. Doctrine wasn’t as important as finding someone who believes there is a God. So you may have to go to the web and search too, matching practices up with who your insurance says is “in network”. If you don’t have insurance, or insurance won’t cover counseling, there are still options. (The article I gave you *points up* gives some great tips).

Feel free to comment here or privately email me. I’m pretty open about my own “journey to a healthy mental/emotional, Denise”. If you live in an area where counselors are “few”, you may find assistance at area worship centers. If confidentiality is a MUST (meaning you don’t even want to be seen coming and going), a new trend includes cyber-counseling. A licensed and trained counselor sees you at a designated time through a web-cam, so it is still face-to-face (important for those of us that need to see a face to communicate well).

Denise Portis

© 2014 Personal Hearing Loss Journal






5 thoughts on “Counseling. Only for the Weak and Needy?

  1. Amen…….this is a great blog. As one with anxiety/depression issues and being diagnosed a few years ago with a cognitive disability, I am also pretty up front about my issues, treatments, ups and downs…..I have found that having an invisible disability is harder to deal with when trying to explain certain things and why I do or don’t do things…..but how you have explained it is wonderfully open and sensitive.
    I, just like you, do counseling and psychiatric therapy, to keep me moving in the right direction since a downward spiral three years ago…..I vow to never let it happen again.
    Can’t always predict what my mind will do, but I can stay as pro active as possible in mmy own treatment and development…….this is like a breath of fresh air and I applaud it……..

  2. Thanks Jane! Counseling and psychiatric help was the best thing I have ever done to help me help myself… and to learn to let others help too. Hugs to you and sweet boy KC!

  3. Like you I don’t have a stigma against seeking psychiatric help. I worry about those who really need to see someone and simply can’t bring themselves to do it because of the stigma….or the expense, or their beliefs….ect. It’s hard enough living with a chronic physical or mental illness without feeling you can get emotional help from someone outside your normal group of people…as you say, someone objective.

    I’ve seen a therapist and a psychiatrist for years. The psychiatrist steady, the therapist off and on. (I have Bipolar I, so I need to keep my medication monitored. I am also not ashamed to tell that I have a mental illness, and I have help. I think more people need to break down the stigma of people seeking help, and the prejudice against those with mental illnesses)

    When I started to lose a lot of my independence because of the Meniere’s (my Meniere’s advanced very rapidly, and I have vertigo nearly every day. I know have 2 CI’s). I didn’t handle it very well. At first I started in therapy alone, but felt that this was something my husband and I needed to address together. We have always communicated very well, but we weren’t doing a good job with this. We needed some place we felt safe to say what we were feeling, our worries, our fears, plus so much more. Thanks to our therapist we are closer than ever. A situation that could have torn us apart, or at least made our lives much less hopeful and happy, ended up showing us just how much we need each other. I may have lost much of my independence, but he still needs me. That’s important.

    We still see out therapist, not as often, just now and then….but she’s always there when we need her. When life’s unforeseen circumstances come our way and we need that objective opinion…she’s there.

    A great post….I’ve been thinking about writing something similar myself. I want to focus more on people who need professional help, but don’t know how to get it….can’t afford it…or can’t find someone “in network” that is feasible.

    Thank you as always for giving people something to really think about.

    1. Thanks so much for your response, Wendy! I agree with you – 100%. I wish people could understand that disorders, disease, therapy and medications to treat all – should be viewed equally as the goal is to have a better life. I don’t know about you, but I found that the stigma about counseling is superseded by the stigma of taking drugs for mental/emotional disorders/disease. I take anti-depressants and you would be shocked at some of the comments I get about being open about THAT. 🙂 Hugs to you!

      1. Being open about my mental state and treatments has mostly been a good thing. Helping people feel that it should be less stigmatized. If you are physically ill and get medication no one thinks anything about it, but if you need medication to help your mental health, some people have a hard time with it. I really want break down some of those thoughts.
        People don’t really comment to me about my illness or my treatment. But my family treats me differently. They don’t tell me things that are going on in the family for fear it might “bother” me. I’m just too delicate.
        Now that I also have physical chronic illnesses, I don’t hear anything from my family….they seem to all be afraid they may add to my stress and cause me to get sicker. They cannot understand that all the secrecy adds much more stress than knowing what is going on.
        So….for the most part, people are very accepting of my openness about mental health. (I’ve even told my employers, and have never been treated any differently because of it.) The only people who look at me differently is my family. They act like I’m going to break…or that I’m contagious. : ) hugs to you too.

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