Personal Counseling For Life Challenges

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Navigating the twists and turns of life can often be challenging and overwhelming. During these times, the support of a personal counselor can become an invaluable asset. You might be a college student facing academic pressure, a professional dealing with a work crisis, or someone seeking guidance to overcome personal struggles. Regardless of your situation, a personal counselor can provide you with the resources and strategies to thrive in adversity.

For many years, counseling has been used to manage various mental health concerns, life challenges, 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), fall within these categories. With a licensed personal counselor or therapist, you may be able to take advantage of these types of therapy. 

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Counseling can be a rewarding and therapeutic experience

The purpose of personal counseling

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

Learning new life skills

In sessions, your therapist might work with you to develop new skills and manage different areas of your life, such as: 

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

Your counselor might provide you with worksheets, assignments, or other recommendations, in addition to listening and guiding you through challenges. You might go through a more intensive program if you’re looking for a specific form of therapy that targets a particular symptom, such as EMDR for trauma. Often, a therapist will develop a structured program or treatment plan with you in the first few sessions that includes certain goals for treatment. 

Releasing suppressed emotions

Many individuals struggle to connect with their emotions or open 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 a specific situation. 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 also work through relationship concerns and conflicts with individual therapy. Your therapist can give you strategies and advice regarding communication, attachment, breakups, loss, and more. 

Gaining validation and compassion 

Although therapy can often be a tool to learn new skills and treat symptoms, many individuals may attend therapy seeking to understand certain 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: 

  • 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 beneficial treatment for reducing stress. Specific forms of stress targeted in therapy include mental burnout, compassion fatigue, work stress, school stress, and life changes. For example, college life can be a time of significant stress and adjustment for many current students looking to excel in their education. In situations where a mental health emergency arises, it is crucial to have timely and effective support. 

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.
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Counseling can be a rewarding and therapeutic experience

Connecting with a counselor 

If you’re interested in mental health services and connecting with an individual counselor, you can meet with someone in your area or find an online counselor. Many colleges and universities are committed to providing comprehensive mental health services to students, faculty, and staff on campus. These services may include short-term counseling, which is particularly beneficial for addressing specific issues or coping with an immediate crisis. Current students and faculty may be able to make appointments with a counselor for one-on-one sessions at their campus office or student health center.

Online counseling may offer more affordable rates and allow you to make appointments based on your schedule and preferences. 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. With internet-based counseling, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions and be matched with a therapist who best fits your mental health needs. 


Personal counseling can be a rewarding experience for those who try it. It can also help promote wellness and provide support during difficult times. If you need guidance for an ongoing issue, counselors are readily available through various contact methods. You can find counseling in-person or online and choose the frequency with which you attend sessions. If you’re interested in trying therapy, consider reaching out to get started.
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