Counseling can be a great resource for so many people when they’re struggling. It gives people a safe space to open up about trauma they have experienced, and a professional that is trained to be able to help them work through said trauma. It also leaves people with tools to utilize outside of therapy, like different techniques to help with anxiety or ways to change your thinking to lift your mood when you’re feeling low. The amount of time and type of therapy needed will differ for different people but after you figure out what works for you, it can be life-changing. When thinking about counseling it’s best to keep an open mind. Be open to look into different types of therapy and don’t be afraid to talk with different therapists to see who you connect with best. The person you work with and the type of therapy you choose can really make a difference in the process so don’t be discouraged if one doesn’t work for you right away. It’s also extremely important to open up and put the work into whatever you choose. If you don’t work for it, it won’t help you heal as much as it could.
My experience with counseling has been all over the place over the last ten years. Ultimately, I’m grateful for it, but when I first started therapy, I was adamantly against it. I went through years of trauma and when I finally got the courage to tell my family and go to the police, I was quickly set up with a therapist. I wanted nothing to do with seeing her, but because I was so young my parents decided it was necessary. They wanted me to have a professional to talk to about what happened and to help while I dealt with court proceedings. On top of not being open to it, the therapist I was connected with wasn’t a good match for me at all. She made me more uncomfortable than I already was, and instead of me talking, it was so easy for me to just get her to talk about herself, so that’s exactly what I did. I think I spent about a year going to her until my parents finally decided it wasn’t helping and let me stop.
Somehow I convinced my mom to not get me another therapist and during the next year, my case went to trial and ended. It didn’t end well, and my anxiety and depression grew until my mom told me she couldn’t see me in that state anymore, I met with another therapist. She was great, but I still wasn’t ready to talk about what I went through. I was so let down from the trial that I shut down my emotions. Instead, I talked about anything else. She was my counselor for about two more years and although I grew to trust her, we barely talked about what happened to me. I never wanted to. When I turned 18, I ended therapy and moved away from home. I finally decided to go back into therapy when I was almost 21 and because it was my choice, and because I finally felt ready to work through everything, it was the best thing that I could have done for myself. I went to the therapist that I connected with before I moved, and we spent about a year and a half working together. I grew so much over the time I spent with her and I’m so grateful for how much support she’s given me. She helped me realize how strong I am and called me out when I wasn’t putting the amount of work in that I should have been. I ended counseling about a year ago, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t decided to finally focus on healing.
Having said all of that, I know everyone is different. For me, I had to decide I was ready to work on everything that was causing my issues, and that took a long time. I started my healing process seven years after the abuse ended, and therapy was a big part of that healing for me. I definitely believe therapy can be an amazing experience, but I know that a lot of factors depend on whether it will help or not. Wanting to heal, finding the right person to work with, and being ready and prepared are all so important when starting that process. I still have anxiety from time to time, but now I have the right tools to get me through my struggles – tools I strengthened in therapy. Whether you go into therapy as soon as you experience trauma or years and years later, it can be beneficial. Even if you think it’s not for you, I think it’s worth trying. It could seriously change your life.