How A Counselor Can Help You Get Through Tough Times

Have you ever felt so down, and nothing you do eases the heavy feeling? Tough times are a part of life as we experience problems and challenges. Sometimes, it takes more than support and positivity to get you through. When times get tough, it is okay to ask for help.

Asking for help can be difficult for some people, especially if you feel like a burden. However, we must remember: most are more than willing to help us get through times. Counselors are professionals who know exactly what to do to guide us back on our feet.

Counseling and Mental Health

During the past century, we have placed more and more value on our mental health. The stigma of psychologists and counselors only working with the insane is long gone. As many people face more problems each day, we aim to understand better how our mind works. This way, counselors can better grasp how we can get rid of our negative thoughts and behaviors.

When Do You Need Counseling?

Your mental health is an important component of your overall well-being. It might not be easy at first, but you must seek help when you need to. There is no need to prolong your suffering when help is readily available.  Below are some of the most common reasons people seek counseling.

  • A Major Change In Life

Some life events leave a negative impact on our lives. The pain from the past and anxiety of what the future holds are thoughts and emotions that are difficult to manage. When the events entail significant life changes, coping can become difficult. A divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a serious illness like cancer, is not easy to handle. A counselor can help you adjust to these changes.

  • A Stressful Environment

The world we live in can become a toxic place, which isn’t ideal for a healthy mental and emotional state. A stressful environment can make our life miserable. A work environment with too many demands and difficult colleagues can be tough. A home built for rest and security can cause stress, especially when conflict is present. A counselor can give you advice on how to deal with the stress your environment causes you.

  • An Unhealthy Or Abusive Relationship

Good relationships are important for support and inspiration to get through tough times. But what if the person meant to care for us is toxic or abusive? A counselor can help you get out of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Domestic conflicts, marital abuse, child abuse, or sexual problems are examples of unhealthy relationships. Sometimes, counselors might help resolve interpersonal problems and make a relationship with a loved one healthy again.

  • Being A Victim Or A Witness Of A Traumatic Situation

Various events can lead to trauma. Traumatic situations can be anything from assault, violence, or sexual abuse, to natural disasters and accidents. The mental flashbacks that make you feel fear and helplessness may have long-term damaging effects. A counselor can help you deal with the effects of trauma lingering with your second chance at life. You can still enjoy your everyday life after surviving or rising from a horrifying event.

  • An Unhealthy Defense Or Coping Strategy

We all have our ways of dealing with our problems, whether big or small. However, you will need a counselor if your coping mechanisms have unhealthy effects like alcohol dependence, smoking, drug use, oversleeping, overeating, compulsive spending, avoidance, venting, and more. This keeps us stuck in a loop of lows instead of resolving our problems. Developing a healthy coping strategy is the key to getting through tough times.

Different Kinds Of Counseling Therapies To Help You Cope

Our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, experiences, and surroundings can shape how we cope through tough times. Regardless of the reason why we struggle, we must always strive to keep our mental faculties healthy. Some people are good at having a positive mindset in life on their own. But, there is no denying that many people need help. During difficult times, a counselor can help.

Counselors use different strategies of psychotherapy to help their clients conquer their problems. Whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or not, a licensed counselor is capable of helping you cope. Here are a few techniques that they use to help you think better and handle issues more positively.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, emphasizes changing and improving the way you think and behave. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, CBT does not dive deep into your subconscious mind. Instead, it focuses on your automatic negative thoughts and behaviors you are used to. Through CBT, you will learn how you can bypass these automatic thoughts and practice better-coping skills.

CBT is an effective strategy for certain types of medical conditions. However, there are certain challenges should you want to try CBT. For one, it can be difficult at first to recognize your negative thoughts. Also, you must commit to change for CBT to work effectively. Once you get through this gradual process, you will learn how to cope better. 

  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal Psychotherapy, or IPT, works on the premise of a person’s emotion linked to his life events. When people have major changes in their lives, they will also experience a big change in their mood. IPT was designed at first to help people with major depression. However, IPT has also been effective in improving mood. People who are grieving, struggling, or pressured with sudden life changes are only a few examples. 

  • Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness-based Therapy, or MBT, is grounded in mindfulness: the state of being conscious with yourself. Often, mindfulness strategies use many meditations to help you become more aware of your bodies and thoughts. Doing so can help separate yourself from any negative thoughts and emotions you might have. People who experience a lot of stress in their lives can benefit a lot from MBT.

Gone are the days when asking for help is a sign of weakness. True strength lies in knowing yourself and your needs. Once you commit to fulfilling your needs and improving yourself, you’ll be a step away from your harsh experiences in life. Difficult times may seem endless, but things will be better, especially if you reach a counselor.

What Is Client-Centered Counseling

People think you go to counseling mainly because you struggle with your mental health. Although that may be true, there are other reasons why we would choose to seek professional help. Often, it is just because we need to talk to someone in hopes of clearing our heads without being judged.

Do you doubt this? Take it from Carl Rogers, a well-known humanistic psychologist who introduced a new approach to counseling: Client-Centered Counseling. The kind of counseling that added a new perception to therapy, patients or clients, and counselors. 

Client-Centered Counseling 

Before, the psychodynamic approach and behaviorism saw people as patients or as someone who is sick and needs a cure. This makes it seem that the person in need of help is unfit to decide for themselves. Therefore, the counselor is the only one in power to do whatever they think necessary to the patient. This is where Carl Rogers came in to show his dismay. 

Rogers strongly believed that humans are inherently good and have a strong desire for personal growth. What they strive for is to reach the highest human development, also known as self-actualization. Because they already know what they want, they are actively participating in counseling. This is the total opposite of the term of how a ‘patient’ is viewed. Rogers then decided to change it to ‘client.’

Due to these changes, the relationship between the client and the counselor becomes equal. The person now has a say in decisions while the counselor is no longer a face of authority but an agent. 

Slowly, Rogers built the foundations of Client-Centered Counseling. In this counseling, the client knows more about themselves than the counselor could ever know. Therefore, the set-up of the therapy is the clients share stories about themselves. The counselor’s only job is to listen without judgment and interruption. The only pause that the counselor would need is to ensure that they follow the client’s words. 

By continuously checking on the client’s feelings, the counselor focuses on the client’s foreground. The client realizes their issues, reflects on themselves, and gets an idea of what they should do moving forward. This makes the client feel lighter for they first started the session. 

Three Qualities Of Client-Centered Counselor

To reach that aim of Client-Centered Counseling, Rogers emphasized that the counselor first must possess the following three qualities:

  • Empathy

The counselor must be sensitive and aware of any reactions, emotions, or changes in the client as they talk. It is necessary to do so for the counselor to mirror the client. Summarizing or repeating what the client has said will make them feel understood. It will also help clear away any unnecessary thoughts that prevent the client from understanding themselves, their emotions, and others.  

  • Congruence

Empathy will not work in helping the client see clearly if the counselor is not honest. The counselor must not pretend to understand, avoid any questions or fool the client. They must also be upfront and honest about it. The counselor should answer the client and let them know what is happening and the possible reasons why. 

A counselor being honest with the client will prompt them to ask other similar questions. The goal is to have the client share more, to build trust and understanding between the two.

  • Unconditional Positive Regard

Having honesty and empathy between a counselor and a client bodes well. However, if unconditional positive regard is not present, things will fall apart. You cannot be empathetic if you do not show you care for the client. It comes off fake and will make the client pull away. It does not matter if you are honest. If the client does not feel the warmth during a session, they will put their guards up even more. 

Have you noticed how people open up more with their closest friends or families than acquaintances or strangers? It is because, with friends and family, there is already unconditional positive regard. These people feel they are worthwhile and important when they are with them. There is no judgment or rejection. They feel the warmth, the care, and the support. 

That is the kind of relationship a client and a counselor should have. However, a counselor must be wary of the boundaries. Overstep too much, and the client will feel awful about it. Interact too little, and the client may not feel comfortable sharing. There must be balance if we wish to have a good result.

How Effective Client-Centered Counseling Is

The most important thing to have in client-centered counseling to be considered a success is the connection between the client and therapist. As mentioned when discussing the qualities of a therapist, if there is a fallout between the two during a session, it will be difficult for the client to open up again. If that is the case, the therapy might lead to a failure.

This is the reason why the client and the counselor must have a strong bond between them. They must also meet the other six conditions that Rogers mentions. 

  • There is a good relationship between the client and counselor 
  • The client is emotionally distraught (incongruence) 
  • The counselor is honest and open about their feelings
  • The counselor gives unconditional positive regard to the client 
  • The counselor has empathy towards the client 
  • The client sees and feels the unconditional positive regard the counselor has for them. 

If these six conditions are met, then there should be a positive change in the client. 

In Conclusion 

Client-Centered Counseling emphasizes that it primarily focuses on clients who want to work on self-actualization. However, according to one study, this type of therapy is much more effective on individuals who struggle with mental health. This shows that though Client-Centered Counseling only started from one side of the population, it is inclusive of the rest. 

As long as you are willing to open up and share your story, Client-Centered Counseling will be helpful and will bring you so many insights about your life.