Facing Life Squarely With The Support Of A Personal Counselor

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated February 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

For many years, counseling has been utilized to treat various mental health concerns, life stressors, and distressing symptoms. Although psychotherapy may be traced back to ancient civilizations, many individuals credit the first form of talk therapy to Sigmund Freud, who developed psychoanalysis to help individuals come to terms with their subconscious.   

In modern psychology, many types of therapy fall within five common categories of counseling, which are:  

  • Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy 
  • Behavior therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Humanistic therapy
  • Holistic and integrative therapy

Specific types of therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), may fall within these categories.

Counseling Can Be A Rewarding And Therapeutic Experience

The Purpose Of Personal Counseling

Personal counseling, also often referred to as individual counseling, is a therapy dedicated to treating an individual’s symptoms, or supporting someone through a difficult situation. It is a common mental health myth that you must have a mental health diagnosis to go to therapy; anyone may take advantage of its benefits. Some of the reasons people might attend therapy include the following. 

Learning New Life Skills

In personal counseling, your therapist might work with you to develop new skills, such as: 

  • Communication 
  • Active listening 
  • Self-care techniques
  • Anger management 
  • Reducing symptoms of a mental health condition
  • Stress management techniques 
  • Career concerns 
  • Healthily opening up about emotions 
  • Working to obtain a secure attachment style
  • Discussing and healing memories of past traumas or events
  • Reducing anxiety 

Your counselor could also provide you with worksheets, take-home assignments, or recommendations for research. You might experience a more intensive program if you’re going through a specific form of therapy that targets a particular symptom, such as EMDR for trauma. Often, a therapist will develop a treatment plan with you in the first few sessions with goals for treatment. 

Releasing Suppressed Emotions

Many individuals struggle connecting with their emotions or opening up about difficult experiences and feelings. For those who feel closed off to emotional vulnerability, a therapist could help them notice a mind-body connection and pinpoint specific physical symptoms and sensations that arise during an emotion. They might also help people identify the facial expressions, body language, and urges that often come with emotions. 

Improving Relationships 

Many people attend counseling to improve relationships. Although counseling can be done with couples, families, or groups, you might target relationship concerns and conflicts through individual therapy. Your therapist can give you strategies and advice regarding communication, attachment, love match, breakups, loss, and more. 

Gaining Validation And Compassion 

Although therapy can often be a tool to learn new skills and treat symptoms, many individuals attend therapy to hear validating and compassionate responses to their most profound experiences and emotions. For individuals with low self-esteem or difficult past experiences, being validated and heard in a non-judgmental way can feel as healing as trying a new skill. 

Treating Mental Health Symptoms And Conditions 

Therapy can be effective in treating many mental health conditions and symptoms, including but not limited to, the following: 

  • Depression and anxiety 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Borderline personality disorder and other cluster B personality disorders 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Child mental health conditions 
  • Attachment concerns 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Grief 

Suppose you do not have a diagnosis, but are concerned you might be experiencing a mental health condition. In that case, a counselor could provide a formal diagnosis or help you pinpoint your symptoms further. 

Reducing Stress 

Therapy can be a rewarding method of reducing stress. Specific forms of stress targeted in therapy include mental burnout, compassion fatigue, work stress, school stress, and life changes. 

Studies On The Benefits Of Counseling 

Thousands of studies have been done over the years on the benefits of varying forms of counseling. For example, one study found that art therapy was highly effective in treating personality disorders, depression, and anxiety. Other studies have found that cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments in working through depression and anxiety with clients, and is often the first option for those with these conditions. 

The American Psychological Association also notes that teletherapy can be as effective, if not more effective, than in-person therapy. These findings are supported by other research that shows that internet-based CBT is highly effective in treating symptoms of long-term stress.

Connecting With A Counselor 

If you’re interested in connecting with an individual counselor, you can meet with someone in your area or find an online counselor. Online counseling offers you more affordable rates and controls over your schedule and preferences. 

In internet-based counseling, you may choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions, and could be matched with a therapist who best fits your mental health needs. Additionally, a recent research study on online therapy platforms found that 71% of participants preferred it to in-person therapy, which could suggest various benefits. Many online therapy platforms are available, including sites like BetterHelp for individuals, and ReGain for couples. 


Counseling can be a rewarding experience for those who try it. You can find counseling in-person or online and choose the frequency with which you attend sessions. Counseling can be effective for many concerns, and people might use it for various reasons. If you’re interested in trying therapy, consider reaching out to get started.

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