Starting Counseling

  • Sebastian18

    Posts: 255

    Jul 05, 2013 6:57 PM GMT
    So, after a few years of dealing with some emotional turmoil I've decided that I'm going to start counseling. This will be my first time in therapy and I'm curious what to expect. Does anyone have any experiences - both positive and negative - with counseling?
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    Jul 05, 2013 8:08 PM GMT
    I concur with the previous post. Twice I went to therapists for stress and anxiety problems and neither helped. Luckily for me, for both times it resolved itself.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Jul 05, 2013 8:20 PM GMT
    Sebastian18 saidSo, after a few years of dealing with some emotional turmoil I've decided that I'm going to start counseling. This will be my first time in therapy and I'm curious what to expect. Does anyone have any experiences - both positive and negative - with counseling?


    From experiences with a close friend: It is like any other health therapy so being open and cooperative with your counselor will pay off.

    Drugs may not work for you. They didn't for him so he stopped them.

    Behavioral counseling did help, though he did not stick with it. Try to stay to course. If you are having problems with it, discuss them with the counselor ASAP.


    Congrats on trying the counseling. It is a big step to take and shows you are working hard on your situation. Good luck.
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    Jul 05, 2013 8:28 PM GMT
    ihatemyself saidbe careful. not every shrink or therapist KNOWS what they're doing. some of them can cause more harm than good. just make sure you know what problems you want to deal with, you can start out by writing why you're going to a therapist or questions to ask them, as some therapists could misguide your intent to being there. you'll come in there to talk about one issue that is affecting your life and then they'll bring up something that is entirely different or isn't even what you came for. some will even say that you don't have a problem and are fine when you're not. the goal is for them to help you help yourself. they're only there to steer you back in the right direction and to learn how to manage on your own, nothing else. if you feel that they're not helping you at all or aren't making any progress with yourself working with them, you can always find another therapist.

    if they offer you to take medication, you don't have to take it. it would be best to only mess with medication as a last resort. just ask for alternative methods of therapy first before taking meds. if that doesn't work, then you might want to try the meds. the reason why i said that is some of those meds are some shit that will make you even worse or might not help you at all.


    This is pretty much what I would have said and more. I'll just add a bit to the last paragraph - if your therapist is a psychiatrist, (s)he will likely favour a drug-based treatment plan, but if (s)he is a good psychiatrist and recognizes that all you need is some form of cognitive therapy (s)he will refer you to a psychotherapist. The major difference between a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist is that the former cannot prescribe drugs or give you any drug-based treatments. For that reason I'd recommend going to a psychotherapist first, because (s)he will recognize (if they're good) that if any form of cognitive therapy is not likely to generate results then (s)he will refer you to a psychiatrist. Easier to work your way up the treatment ladder than down.

    Remember that a therapist will not take it personally if you decide early on or even a ways down the road that (s)he isn't the right fit for you. Sometimes your personality and his/hers just don't work together, even if his/her treatment methods are psychologically sound. Be open to a different approach, but at the same time remember that you have no obligation to stay with any one therapist. All the best as you seek counselling - you'll be alright icon_cool.gif
  • Sebastian18

    Posts: 255

    Jul 05, 2013 8:30 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice and support. I did a lot of research into the counselor and he's someone that's helped an acquaintence before with good results which made me feel a little more comfortable.

    I'm still kind of anxious about it, but I'm sure that'll pass. I know that I'm not too keen on taking medications if I don't have to and will likely consult with a naturopath if it does come to that.
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    Jul 05, 2013 8:32 PM GMT
    Counselling is bullshit in my humble view.

    Talking about your depression won't make you any happier, it'll just make you even more depressed.

    Be happy, ignore your downs and eventually you will forget them.

    It's like internal positive reenforcement.
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    Jul 05, 2013 8:39 PM GMT
    Seeing a psychiatrist/counsellor can be a mix bag, as the other members have mentioned here already. With that said, it is my belief that trying anything new with skepticism prevents you from getting the complete experience and receiving full benefits.

    Based on the experiences I've had with psychiatrists, the first one or two sessions have been mostly the same for all of the ones I've worked with. I reckon, just like a general physician would have a list of standard questions to ask for you if you go to a walk-in clinic, psychiatrists also have a list of questions that can help them with initial diagnosis. A lot of these questions will ask for very intimate details that you may feel embarrassed about sharing. All I can say is, be as honest as possible and let them know if those questions bother you. Any answer can help, as long as it's truthful.

    They may ask you to start on medication right away, and I know that can be intimidating for someone who's never been on meds before. That was something that i found tough to accept at first as well, but the psychiatrists helped me realize that the treatments won't work unless some of the symptoms of depression were treated first (such as lack of sleep and inconsistent diet). With that said, I'd advise you to just have confidence in your counsellor and try what he/she asks you to try, though don't be afraid to ask questions about the med and why he/she is recommending it. Another thing to keep in mind with medication is that some of them will take weeks before the effects start showing.

    With time, you will realize that either your counsellor is good for you or not. I'd recommend you to work with him/her for at least a month before you seriously consider switching to another counsellor. There are undoubtedly counsellors out there who aren't as flexible and try to impose same method of treatment for every patient that they have. However, I don't think you should be too quick to switch your counsellor unless if he starts ranting some nonsense or things that are causing you more pain than recovery. A lot of psychiatrists/counsellors appreciate feedback, so make sure to let them know if whatever they are trying isn't working for you. Again, be as open and honest as you can, and the treatment will advance much faster that way.

    Anyways, best of luck. I hope you find what you are looking for with your counsellor, but keep in mind that you will also find things you may never have expected. Just be open minded and you will get a lot more out of it than you anticipated. icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 05, 2013 8:47 PM GMT
    I was a member of a great weekly gay group counseling session for months, and the most potent thing I took from it was something the therapist told me once, about how therapy is about getting in touch with what u think the ugly parts of yourself are, and being ok with them. And also, about making choices that denote integrity, and never compromising my self-worth. These are important lessons I feel for anybody. Hope u receive positive results!

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    Jul 05, 2013 8:50 PM GMT
    IrishDarren saidCounselling is bullshit in my humble view.

    Talking about your depression won't make you any happier, it'll just make you even more depressed.

    Be happy, ignore your downs and eventually you will forget them.

    It's like internal positive reenforcement.

    When mental disorders are involved the brain doesn't quite work like that generally speaking my man. For many people who aren't clinically depressed or sufferers of a mental disorder (and I'm guessing you probably aren't), your strategy is fairly good. Repression/denial of mental disorders when they are latent, however, only serves to intensify the feelings of depression when they return. Being able to talk about them with a psychological professional allows you to get strategies to learn how to best deal with waves of depression based on one's history, personality profile, interests, previous treatments, etc.

    Of course, psych is the career area I'm getting into so I recognize that I am obviously partially biased. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists are only two options that fall under the biopsychosocial model of treatment (which says pathology is a result of a combination of biological, psychological and social factors), while a general practitioner/family doctor will typically ascribe to a biomedical model of treatment (which says pathology is merely a result of deviation from biological normalcy). CAM, aka Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is basically forms of treatment that have not validated by the scientific method. Examples of this would include homeopathy and naturopathy.

    There are a number of ways to get treatment. I personally would rather go to a specialist who is trained specifically to deal with psychological issues and has sufficient evidence for the efficacy of their treatment (such as a psychotherapist or psychiatrist), but for those who go to a general practitioner, a naturopath or whoever they prefer, all the power to them. I support anyone seeking help beyond themselves, because generally speaking we are not wired to deal with stuff alone...
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jul 05, 2013 9:09 PM GMT
    Sebastian18 saidThanks for the advice and support. I did a lot of research into the counselor and he's someone that's helped an acquaintence before with good results which made me feel a little more comfortable.

    I'm still kind of anxious about it, but I'm sure that'll pass. I know that I'm not too keen on taking medications if I don't have to and will likely consult with a naturopath if it does come to that.

    Really, you have to figure out how to help yourself to reach the point you want to achieve, all a therapist really does it try steer you in the correct directgion on that search.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Jul 05, 2013 9:37 PM GMT
    I think the entire profession is quackery designed to empty your wallet into theirs. If you look closely enough, most of the people in the profession are recovering addicts or children of addicts. I think there is a biological root to most mental health issues and sometimes shrinks have medicines that can help and sometimes they don't. The talk therapy part is to try to get you to see reality but it only helps if the root cause is dealt with first.
  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Jul 05, 2013 9:42 PM GMT
    Have an open mind...

    Your experience will be your own, as your problems and personality are your own.

    Give it some time, dont expect overnight results.

    And try hard to be honest and open with your therapist... They arent judges, they are there to help you work out problems.

    ANd good on you man... Problems dont go away without help of some kind... and this is a good and healthy choice!
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    Jul 05, 2013 9:49 PM GMT
    IrishDarren saidCounselling is bullshit in my humble view.

    Talking about your depression won't make you any happier, it'll just make you even more depressed.

    Be happy, ignore your downs and eventually you will forget them.

    It's like internal positive reenforcement.


    I could not disagree with this any more. Disregard this posting as dangerously misinformed or undereducated.
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    Jul 05, 2013 9:50 PM GMT
    Destinharbor saidI think the entire profession is quackery designed to empty your wallet into theirs. If you look closely enough, most of the people in the profession are recovering addicts or children of addicts. I think there is a biological root to most mental health issues and sometimes shrinks have medicines that can help and sometimes they don't. The talk therapy part is to try to get you to see reality but it only helps if the root cause is dealt with first.

    Right, because you've appropriately sampled the entire profession worldwide, interviewed them extensively and ethically about their lives, and you have done multiple experiments using these methods to obtain internally reliable and externally generalizable data to support your lofty conclusion. C'mon man, surely you must see the irony (not to mention the methodological flaw) in using a personal anecdote to call out an entire profession as quackery...
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    Jul 05, 2013 9:53 PM GMT
    IrishDarren saidCounselling is bullshit in my humble view.

    Talking about your depression won't make you any happier, it'll just make you even more depressed.

    Be happy, ignore your downs and eventually you will forget them.

    It's like internal positive reenforcement.
    that's the biggest bunch of bs I've heard today
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:04 PM GMT
    I'd say expect to walk out of the first session both comfortable and uncomfortable. If you respect your shrink, and have a sense of their listening, as well as you feeling uncomfortable about sharing your personal stuff, then that is a great gauge of being able to work with that particular person. They'll probably talk about informed consent (e.g. mandates and confidentiality), documentation (e.g. HIPAA), and how they would approach working with you. On your end, something to say would be your own expectations of your shrink (e.g. challenging your ideas), what you would like to know of them (e.g. if they see people like you in their practice), their philosophy (e.g. where do problems originate?), and feel free to ask them tons of questions.

    You can be judgy about who you let into your life, and your therapist is no exception.
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:07 PM GMT
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/infographics/brain-initiative



    http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/


  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Jul 05, 2013 10:13 PM GMT
    juvenescences said
    Destinharbor saidI think the entire profession is quackery designed to empty your wallet into theirs. If you look closely enough, most of the people in the profession are recovering addicts or children of addicts. I think there is a biological root to most mental health issues and sometimes shrinks have medicines that can help and sometimes they don't. The talk therapy part is to try to get you to see reality but it only helps if the root cause is dealt with first.

    Right, because you've appropriately sampled the entire profession worldwide, interviewed them extensively and ethically about their lives, and you have done multiple experiments using these methods to obtain internally reliable and externally generalizable data to support your lofty conclusion. C'mon man, surely you must see the irony (not to mention the methodological flaw) in using a personal anecdote to call out an entire profession as quackery...

    I've watched it pretty closely for a couple of decades because several members of my family have been caught up with issues forever. Talk therapy does nothing. Chemicals can but only for a few select problems. I hope some researchers are moving the profession towards what the rest of the medical profession can do: specifically identify the problem, then apply proven medicine to fix it. I'm not saying everyone in the industry is bad, just that the state of the art just isn't there yet, yet they pretend it is.
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:18 PM GMT
    Heaven help you, my friend, therapy is mostly a sham.
    I beg to to find the cheapest MALE therapist available.
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:35 PM GMT
    Destinharbor said
    I've watched it pretty closely for a couple of decades because several members of my family have been caught up with issues forever. Talk therapy does nothing. Chemicals can but only for a few select problems. I hope some researchers are moving the profession towards what the rest of the medical profession can do: specifically identify the problem, then apply proven medicine to fix it. I'm not saying everyone in the industry is bad, just that the state of the art just isn't there yet, yet they pretend it is.

    You just finished saying the entire profession is quackery, so you did say everyone in the industry is bad. Every single profession has quacks, that's just systemic variance.

    With all due respect, you live in Florida, and your family does not come even close to representing the approximate 7 billion people alive on the planet today. Your family could quite easily have issues that are only treatable chemically, your state could have professionals that are more inclined to one form of treatment based on the schools of thought perpetrated by the educational institutions that your practitioners came from, there could be any number of factors influencing the results you have observed in your family. Please, PLEASE, recognize that your experience (or any one person's experience, even mine) is not sufficient to bring about a justified indictment of an entire profession. That is nothing short of ludicrous. You don't live in Canada, anywhere in Europe, Australia, etc, where other practitioners from other institutions and various schools of thought are practicing. You can blast the professionals in your area (since I don't live there, I can't confirm or deny your allegations), but don't make the mistake of generalizing. You simply don't have sufficient knowledge.

    As for the state of the art not being there...I'm going to guess that you have not been to an advanced psych research methods or statistics class at a reputable university in the last decade. A good therapist is more than aware of the strengths and weaknesses of every conceivable treatment method that they are ethically allowed to practice today, and thorough knowledge of the research behind each of them is imperative. As for the medical profession, it is also wrought with misdiagnoses, psych is not alone in that regard. Even professionals are human and make mistakes. On average psychologists and psychotherapists have to account for a whole lot more variables when making a diagnosis/treatment plan, simply due to the complexity of the mind. I can't do enough justice to the field in any response here, I've got 6 years of education and research to go on, and another 6 remaining at some point.
  • Tritimium

    Posts: 261

    Jul 05, 2013 10:42 PM GMT
    A "counselor" will generally only listen and not make many constructive suggestions, whereas other types of therapy (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, solution focused therapy, and hypnotherapy) would help to change your negative thought patterns etc.

    Whichever route you go down, you need to put in a good deal of time and effort into introspecting and reflecting on your thought processes and behaviours in order to make progress. It can take a while (it took 4 years in my case), but definitely possible and definitely worth it icon_wink.gif
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:45 PM GMT
    __JoeyD___ said
    IrishDarren saidCounselling is bullshit in my humble view.

    Talking about your depression won't make you any happier, it'll just make you even more depressed.

    Be happy, ignore your downs and eventually you will forget them.

    It's like internal positive reenforcement.


    I could not disagree with this any more. Disregard this posting as dangerously misinformed or undereducated.


    I love how you and the guy below you just put my post down negatively without offering any positive solutions to argue against my post.

    I am not afraid of being criticized by the negative namecallers, thats too republican-esque.

    Make a valid arguement against my post, don't just slander it.
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    Jul 05, 2013 10:47 PM GMT
    You can only get out of it what you put into it. When I was like 10 my parents forced me to see a shrink. He asked me questions, I gave short fabricated answers that I thought he wanted to hear with the objective of having him shut up and let me go.

    It's a useful tool for some people. Not for everyone.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jul 05, 2013 11:18 PM GMT
    Good for you !
    I think that what's most beneficial is just talking about what's bothering you. Talking gets you to see things more clearly, and to see what your options are.

    And, it helps to have a good doctor.
    I had a few appointments with a psychiatrist, but all he tried to do was to get me to be more like him.
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    Jul 05, 2013 11:24 PM GMT
    Sebastian18 saidThanks for the advice and support. I did a lot of research into the counselor and he's someone that's helped an acquaintence before with good results which made me feel a little more comfortable.

    I'm still kind of anxious about it, but I'm sure that'll pass. I know that I'm not too keen on taking medications if I don't have to and will likely consult with a naturopath if it does come to that.


    Try the cognitive therapy first before considering pharmaceuticals.

    Also, be realistic when you approach the counseling relationship. If the vibe is not right for you, then you have to pull the plug and find another one to "interview". You'll know after a couple of sessions whether or not there is a good fit with a counselor.

    From my own experience, I tend to get the most from male counselors who are older than me. It didn't matter what their sexuality was, as long as they were ok with mine.