Reasons To Reach Out To A Counselor

Updated October 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Many people understand that caring for your physical health is essential. If you have a persistent cough or pain in your knees, you might visit the doctor to check it. However, many people may feel differently about mental health. Due to common mental health myths and stigmas, people might not reach out for therapy until they feel they can no longer bear their symptoms. 

Many people recognize the importance of caring for their physical health and seek help when needed. However, when it comes to mental health, individuals may hesitate due to common myths and stigmas. They might not decide to reach out to a counselor or explore available resources like peer support until their symptoms become unbearable. 

However, counseling can be a beneficial prevention strategy for various mental health crises, and you don't have to have severe concerns to see a therapist. Studies have shown that mental and physical health are heavily connected, as well. A persistent mental health challenge that goes untreated may lead to headaches, stomachaches, or other distressing sensations. Chronic stress can also lead to inflammation and physical disease. Mental healthcare is healthcare. 

Below are a few reasons people might reach out to a counselor and how a therapist can benefit you.

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How Do I Know If I Need Counseling?

Reasons To Consult A Counselor

Many people might feel that they shouldn't seek a counselor if they can manage on their own. However, being able to care for yourself doesn't necessarily reflect your personal growth or learning. Counselors can help you figure things out, not only serving as support for those with severe mental illness.

Whether you're looking for relationship advice, struggling with depression, or feeling confused about a significant decision in your career, a professional might benefit you. People seek counseling for a variety of reasons, from minor to severe.

A few common reasons can include the following: 

  • Conflict with a partner
  • Family communication challenges 
  • A new job 
  • A new baby 
  • Making a significant decision 
  • Life stressors, like moving or considering a career change 
  • Mental illness 
  • Distressing mental health symptoms 
  • Sleep issues 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Coping with a terminal diagnosis 
  • Trauma or adverse experiences
  • Substance use 
  • Self-harm
  • Unwanted behaviors, thoughts, or beliefs
  • Chronic stress
  • Fears 
  • Phobias
  • Social challenges 
  • School challenges

You do not have to handle your concerns on your own. A therapist can be a beneficial resource. In addition, going to therapy is not "weird" or "rare." Over 41.7 million Americans see a therapist, and the number is growing. In addition, therapy can often be a short-term solution for those who don't want to spend a lot of time in counseling. It can also be a long-term support for those who appreciate the guidance of a therapist throughout their day-to-day lives.

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What Do Counselors Do? 

Counselors are professionals in mental health with a master's degree or doctorate that hold an up-to-date license in their state and clinical hours of experience. These providers offer guidance, coping mechanisms, mental health education, validation, support, and therapy methods to help their clients make changes. With over 400 types of therapy available, you can target almost any symptom. 

Ask questions if you're unsure about your counselor's treatment approach. Often, a counselor will have an initial intake appointment with you before you begin therapy to ensure you are prepared for treatment and understand your concerns before you start. 

How To Find A Counselor 

Once a person has decided to seek counseling, trying to find a fit may feel overwhelming. Although counselors might look like a fit when you look at them online, meeting with the therapist for an initial consultation can help you understand whether you will connect well during sessions. 

Research has shown that the number of years a counselor has experience treating clients may not be as valuable as the rapport and trust between the counselor and client. Carl Rogers calls it "unconditional positive regard," which means the feeling that you can tell anything with your therapist. Having a safe and judgment-free zone with someone who will listen and offer feedback without judgment can be beneficial. If you don't feel safe or heard by your therapist, you might not benefit from therapy with them. 

To find a counselor, consider doing a search online or calling therapists in your area. You can also ask for a referral from your doctor if you're unsure where to start. If you don't want to search for a counselor, signing up for an online platform can allow you to get matched with someone who fits your preferences without the extra work. 

If you feel overwhelmed in the search, note that many counselors recognize there is no "one size fits all" approach and are more eclectic, taking inspiration from various techniques. You might find a therapist that fits your needs by searching for your specific symptoms upfront. A therapist specializing in your symptoms, diagnosis, or preferred form of treatment may be more compatible with you than someone who works in another area. For example, suppose you're experiencing social phobia but reach out to a therapist that works with childhood depression. In that case, you may not find as many benefits as you might with a therapist specializing in social anxiety and exposure therapy.

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How Do I Know If I Need Counseling?

How To Make The Most Of A New Counselor 

Try not to make a final judgment about your counselor after the first session. The relationship between you and your therapist can take time to move forward, and the intake session may be more focused on getting to know each other than starting treatment. If you don't feel unsafe or disrespected, give your therapist a chance and be open-minded about what to expect in future sessions.

In addition, try not to let one bad experience ruin therapy for you. Therapists are people; as such, they can vary in personality and opinions. Finding a therapist that you click with can be like finding any relationship. It may take some time, but once you find the right one, you'll get the answers you seek. 

Talking to a counselor may help you learn more about yourself and is a tool to support you. Unlike a friend or peer, therapists can offer research-based advice and years of expertise to support you. You're not alone in your experiences, and a therapist is a guide to meeting your goals. 

Counseling Options 

Some people might not reach out to a counselor because they feel they can't find an option in their area that meets their needs. In addition, in-person counseling can be expensive and unavailable for many, and people might avoid therapy to avoid high costs or unprofessional providers. In these cases, online counseling may be more effective. 

Research points to online counseling as a way to bridge the gap between those who need counseling and those who aren't able to seek it, offering therapy that is available with only an internet connection and that is as successful as in-person therapy in managing symptoms associated with various mental health concerns. 

Additionally, an internet-based therapy site can provide 24 7 opportunities, more cost-efficiency, safety, and seclusion than traditional therapy. As technology advances, it continues to provide more avenues for safe and effective counseling.

Through an online platform, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your counselor and pay a lower per-session price than in-person counseling. Platforms like BetterHelp allow you to receive online therapy using a nickname.

Counselor Reviews

“Great counselor! I have only had a couple sessions with Jason so far but am very surprised by the progress I’ve made already. In each session he has been perfectly respectful, unbiased, punctual, knowledgeable, helpful and kind. Since our last phone session a couple days ago, I have felt a consistent sense of elevated emotional stability, which is a bit of a miracle. I would recommend Jason to anyone and am really excited to keep up this good work that he is guiding me to do and helping me through.”

“I was skeptical about online counseling- and even getting to the point where I thought I might need therapy was challenging in and of itself- but I've had the best experience with Dr. Lechnyr. I'm so thankful for this service and I suggest it to others when it's relevant. Thank you thank you for your work Dr. Lechnyr.”

Takeaway

People reach out to therapists for various reasons, from relationship challenges to mental illness. If you're seeking a therapist but aren't sure how they can help you, consider reaching out to a professional for an initial consultation to ask questions and receive further compassionate guidance.  A good therapist will answer your questions, help you gain insight into your struggles, and provide suggestions for how to address them.

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