I was opposed to talk therapy for quite sometime because I had the wrong counselors. After crashing and burning in college, I decided it was time to try again. Finally, on the fourth counselor I found a match. All it took was a recommendation from a friend to change my life. Since I started counseling with this lovely lady, I have learned a lot about myself, my triggers, and grown as a person. I have a better grasp on how to handle myself when I'm feeling anxious and how to identify why I'm feeling anxious at a certain point in time.
Finding the right counselor makes all the difference. I used to dread going to counseling, but now I look forward to it. Here's four things I LOVE about my counselor and might be characteristics to look for when you're trying to determine if your counselor is right for YOU.
1) SHE'S RELATABLE
The counselor I'm currently seeing is close to my age. I feel like we would be wonderful friends if we met in passing. While I'm not sure what specific struggles she has faced in her life, I know she has had some because she relates well to me. I feel like she understands and gets me.
2) SHE DOESN'T TAKE NOTES IN FRONT OF ME, BUT STILL REMEMBERS ALL THE DETAILS.
The counselors I had before always had a notepad and pen. I understand the need to take notes, but for me and my anxiety this sometimes had the tendency to make me uncomfortable. On occasion I would feel paranoid, wondering what are they writing about me?
My current counselor does not take notes in front of me. Maybe she writes things down after I leave? Maybe she has an amazing memory? I'm not sure. But she ALWAYS remembers details, names, triggers, and events from sessions months ago. This makes me feel more like I have a friend I can confide in rather than an illness I am treating. For me it makes counseling more comfortable.
3) HER OFFICE IS RELAXING AND WELCOMING.
Some of my previous counselors have had offices that make me feel like I am in an insane asylum or a hospital room. The white walls and small amount of light were not welcoming. My current counselor's office is full of relaxing blues, natural light, and soothing sound machines. I feel like I am at a friends home rather than a doctors office.
4) SHE TAKES TIME TO FIND THE ROOT OF MY ANXIETIES, INSTEAD OF JUST SKIPPING TO THE SOLUTION.
By taking the extra time to go all the way back to my childhood and discover where my anxieties began this creates healing and understanding. Whereas some of my other counselors just focused on finding solutions and coping mechanisms to dealing with my anxieties. Digging deep leads to long term healing whereas solely focusing on coping mechanisms is a temporary fix. You can put duct tape on the holes...but you know they'll eventually over flow. I think finding the right balance of exploring coping mechanisms mixed with dealing with the past is valuable.