What to Expect from Counseling
Recently, there have been a lot of people at our facility that are new to counseling. It can be very scary to walk into a facility and talk about things you are trying to hide from others. So first off, a big thanks to all of you first-timers who were brave enough to come in and face their fears. Now, if you are unfamiliar with the counseling process, this article was written to take the mystery out of the treatment.
For years therapy has gotten a bad stigma. I always thought that people who sought therapy were weak or really screwed up. Then, I showed up, but not out of choice but necessity. I was having daily panic attacks and wanted to try talk therapy before medication. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. I was talking to a nice woman who really cared about me, who let me get a lot of things off of my chest, and soon afterward my nerves settled down on their own.
As I’ve worked with all sorts of individuals, couples, families, and even in my personal growth seminars, even those who were emotionally stable were getting a lot out of treatment.
The Benefits of Therapy:
- Knowledge – Do you know how to work through, anger, depression, or anxiety? In counseling, you learn why you are struggling and are taught tools to overcome the ailment.
NOTE: It is important to research the people providing treatment to you. Are they licensed, what are their success rates, and how do they believe people heal? If after the first session, therapists are telling you their problems or giving you advice – it is time to find somebody else because treatment entails you coming up with your own solutions and therapists just need to be supportive and educate you about your options.
- Learning communication skills – Psychology is the science of relationships. Relationships are basically people relating to each other. It is important to improve how you communicate with yourself first because how you are with you, you will be with others. Once improved we then help you better communicate with others. For example, if you need to be right, don’t want to listen to reason, or need to bully somebody into agreeing with your point of view, then you have a problem. Did you know that the number one communication skill was listening? If you believe that relationships are based on making yourself right and the other person wrong, how will that work in the long run? Moving away from the right/wrong thinking and learning how to properly exist together will improve relationships, job performance, and your overall health.
- Healing past trauma – In numbing out the pain from your past only amplifies the hurt. This is when people easily get angry, read negative things into other people’s actions, and turn to substances to numb their feelings. If you have a habit of taking your frustration out on others it is time to work on the underlying issues. In learning to take proper care of your wounds, you become more stable and have more control over your emotions.
- Becoming your own best friend – How are you with you? Did you know that how you are with you is how you are with others? We have been taught that it is bad to love ourselves. Why? The opposite is true. When you love yourself you improve yourself and in doing so it is natural to love others more deeply. When you care for others first it gives your innermost self the message that other people are better. As a parent, in order to help out your children, you must help yourself first. And we have heard all the excuses not to do so – it is selfish or narcissistic. This happens when we are only caring for ourselves and turning our backs on others. You have plenty of time to do both in life and just know that after you care for yourself, you have more juice to care for others.
- Having a better ability to deal with others – We tend to get triggered by others when they remind us of ourselves. This and if somebody breaks one of our inner rules. In fact, many couples and families enter treatment because of their own inner conflicts. In learning how to work through your own issues, it is easier to deal with people who are struggling with what used to bother you. And no, therapy is not about learning how to change other people and make them into carbon copies of you. It is learning how to coexist. Is it that important to be right all the time? It can get pretty lonely being right instead of being loving.
There are some detriments to therapy. One is painful memories can get triggered and come to the surface. This is to be expected. Often we sweep our issues under the rug and after a while, all we see is the rug. Therapy can be seen as an internal spring cleaning where the issues of the past are dealt with with dignity and care. It can be an amazing experience to process through old traumatic events and discover the beautiful person within yourself in the process.
The Steps in Treatment:
- The first step in therapy is to talk about what brought you there. At first, counselors look for the “Red Flags” to see if they suffer from any physical ailments, have substance use problems, or are a danger to themselves or others. Therapists are trained to keep people safe and perhaps the key to feeling better may be in taking care of a physical ailment. Do you want to keep covering that thorn in your side with a bandage, or do you want to remove it once and for all?
- Talking about your life. What a luxury this is. Recapping your life can provide you with valuable information about what made you you. Object Relations Therapy believes that all mental illness has its roots in early childhood experiences. Learning how to address the difficulties of your past can lead to incredible healing.
- Coming up with solutions. Therapy is not one size fits all. What works for one person may not work for you. Here is where you work with the counselor to come up with a plan of action, get homework assignments, and turn to different tools instead of continuing with tools that have brought you into the treatment room. Yes, therapy is not a counselor waving some magic wand and instantly you are better. No, you are that magic wand to yourself and effort to change. Continually making the effort will create the change that you are looking to achieve.
- Changing the Family System. A change in you can cause a lot of strain on your family, relationship, and friends. Families tend to operate as a unit. A change in one person can cause such a strain in others that they will literally be a hindrance to your recovery. Therapy also helps you to remain centered as you work to break free of the family conditioning and become your own individual, despite all the posturing of others. Staying strong in the new you will help people around you adjust and change the old patterns.
- Forgiveness of self. We can be our harshest critic. When we learn from our past behaviors and change them, we grow as a person. At this point, do you want to continue to identify with the old you that used to do the behavior or the new and improved you? Forgiveness of self cleans the slate and catapults you forward in life, leaving your past behind.
The above are the basic basics. There is a lot more to therapy that is eye-opening, soul-improving, and inspiring. At Basic Steps Mental Health we teach people 10 different Psychological approaches that help facilitate a change. And no we don’t talk about the weather. We teach people the tools that were taught to me so long ago in graduate school which has been the mainstay in my practice for 30 years. Tried and true, from the homeless and psychotic to those attending luxury treatment in Malibu, I’ve treated over 8,000 people and counting. This is because these tools are effective and easy to use. In fact, those who attend our IOP program, learn our self-counseling method in which participants literally counsel themselves on paper. After learning the 10 approaches you have enough knowledge at that point on counseling you.
Our facility is modeled after the curriculum that was taught at the University of Santa Monica. All of us students counseled one another and everybody healed. So why not use this model in a treatment facility?
The tools and knowledge we provide to our clients are just one part of the counseling experience. Treatment is much bigger than this because it basically entails a counselor and a client letting down their guards, and being genuine. When people aren’t putting their all into treatment, it limits the treatment experience and all we can do is plant seeds by educating people on different strategies and tools. Now, if you come in with something real, with a desire to heal, this is where the magic takes place.
The staff at this facility have all gone through this course, know Spiritual Psychology, and have used all the tools to better themselves. We practice what we preach because it does work and all of us have had amazing transformations because of this. In doing so, we improve our relationship with ourselves, and in doing that we are more at ease and more loving with others.
Thank you to our newcomers and if you are a person on the fence, come on in for an assessment and take the opportunity to learn the above first hand then decide if you want to continue.
Compassionate Care is Always Available
There are many more tools and strategies you can use in your pursuit of happiness. Here is where we come in. Contact us at Basic Steps Mental Health and let us support and educate you on this journey back to your loving heart center. Imagine living a heart-centered life, regardless of what is happening externally. We’d love to be of help.
For 25 years, Dr. Scott Alpert, the clinical director of Basic Steps Mental Health, has treated over 7,000 people with mental health and addiction problems, using a Psychological approach that mixes and matches ten of the top approaches used in the industry. We are here virtually and in-person to help you get through this COVID-19 pandemic and many other difficulties you may be experiencing.
May you have good mental health.