I think everyone could benefit from counseling and self-improvement, not just people suffering from mental illness or in the middle of a crisis. Taking personal inventory, letting old hurts go, and finding out why certain things hit you with more impact than they should are all things we should be doing periodically, but if you’re like many people (and myself – before counseling), you’ll let things build up until it’s absolutely necessary to deal with everything and then good luck figuring out what to tackle first. Holding a mirror up to the contents of yourself as a person may seem horrifying or at least uncomfortable, but if you’re ok being yourself around everyone else, you should venture to look at who you are by yourself.

About finding a counselor:
When I was looking for one, I was very depressed and overwhelmed about everything. I tried finding a counselor by a recommendation from my primary care doctor, and gave her a call to find out if she was taking new patients. She was not and gave me another name, who was also not taking patients and passed me on to a third recommendation who was again had no availability. Each of these counselors got back to me within a day to a week, some of them with multiple voicemails back and forth with me before passing me on to the next, and I was so overwhelmed I usually was not able to make another phone call for a day or three. It was three weeks after I started trying to make an appointment before I called the local behavioral health clinic in my insurance network with yet another name who was not taking any new patients, but I could see a male counselor within a week or two. I was hoping my counselor would be a lady and was worried that he would not be able to understand me as well as a woman, but I’m glad I started seeing him and have had no problems talking with him.

Some things I would have done differently with what I know now: call the network behavioral health clinic first and see a readily available counselor. You can always try someone out and if it’s not a good fit, try someone else. I also would not have worried so much about the gender of my counselor, they’re all trained professionals and if it ever came to a point where things were uncomfortable, I could transfer to a female counselor.

Overall, I’ve had a resoundingly positive experience with counseling. Aside from being uncomfortable about people potentially judging me about being a person who goes to counseling, it’s one of the best investments in myself I’ve made and has opened up considerations that may have taken a lot longer to get to, if they would have happened at all without it.

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