Counseling is known as “talk-therapy”, but it is also collaboration, an exchange and a relationship. The basis of the relationship is the counselor’s empathy and unconditional positive regard as well as the client’s sharing of his or her experience. It can be viewed as an exploration of an issue or reality where the client is the “expert”.
Some people avoid counseling because they fear being confronted, but confrontation in counseling is a goal, not a style. It will happen naturally as issues are explored and the client begins to see and address dissonance, internal conflict and perhaps face emotions and thoughts that have long been repressed.
There are many different titles and degrees in the world of mental health and it can be confusing when you are looking for a counselor for the first time. In addition to academic degrees, though, it is my personal belief that you can only go as far as your therapist has gone. Self-reflection, development and introspection is key to me as well as staying open to and curious about people, life and stories – why do we do what we do? And why do we sometimes do things that prove not be working time and time again?
Finding the “right” counselor can be difficult. In my experience the key to good counseling is the therapeutic relationship. When there is a “click”, you feel safe, listened to and understood. This does not mean, however, that it cannot be challenging, but like with everything else in life you will have to try it on for size in order to find out what works for you.