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"I want to see a Mental Health counselor....does that mean I'm crazy?"

Originally posted June 26, 2010

Does it mean you are “crazy” if you come to see a counselor? The short answer is “No.” There is not a person alive who could not benefit on some level from counseling. Even now in the 21st century there seems to exist a feeling of secrecy, embarrassment or shame when we seek out someone with whom to talk and sort out our feelings. There can be fear involved which leads us back to our original question, “If I seek out the help of a counselor, will I be judged and labeled as crazy.” I believe the opposite is true. A person who seeks out counseling has the intelligence and self-awareness to know he/she is in need of help. It does not mean you are weak to seek out help. Again, the opposite is true. It means you are brave enough to reach out and seek support, answers or insight that has eluded you.

The reasons people seek out a counselor are as varied as people themselves. Life is full of transitions such as finding your footing in a new marriage, the struggles with blending families, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, divorce, becoming an empty nester, and retirement. Change is difficult for most, and life if full of it. There are the everyday struggles such as not knowing what to do with feelings such as anger, sadness or fear and the feeling of “being stuck.” We all know people who repeat patterns of being controlling or hot tempered or unable to speak their true feelings. Without understanding why they are using these behaviors, they tend to repeat them. If they lead to repeated negative responses from others or repeated bad consequences, wouldn’t it be helpful to learn what is leading to these actions and what can be done about it?

My suggestion is, try it. Find one with whom you feel comfortable. Call us and ask us specifically for what you are looking. You will get the most benefit from a counselor who you feel safe and connected with. Feel free to ask the counselor questions. The time you are with the counselor is your time. You deserve to get the most out of it. If you have concerns, share them. If it doesn’t feel like a good “fit,” you can always see someone else.

Can we talk to friends or family members? The answer to this is as varied as our families. Some people simply do not feel safe sharing deep, personal feelings with family members who themselves often have not dealt with their own struggles and feelings. Well meaning friends often try to give advice when maybe you just need someone to listen. Friends and coworkers can also give advice like, “Just get over it and move on.” When our feelings are involved, this is not helpful. This is where professional training comes in handy. A counselor can offer a compassionate ear, support, insight and guidance - as much or as little as you want. There is a more satisfied life waiting for you.

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