Counselling is not for mad people: Destigmatize professional help

Counselling is not for mad people: Destigmatize professional help

More often than not, when you confide in a friend or family member that you’d be seeking professional help, the reaction is one of suspicion. Why do you need counselling? How long have you been mentally unstable? Are you trying to say you’re going mad? These are the sort of questions you should be prepared to answer once you’ve made such a revelation.

That, however, is a very flawed view to hold about counselling and for that matter, seeking professional help. In this article, we’ll learn about what counselling is, by first learning what it isn’t.

What counselling isn’t?

Counselling does not provide a cure for personal and emotional issues. Counselling sessions do not provide magic answers or instant solutions to life’s problems. It is neither an advice-giving, nor a main support for an individual to breeze through life with.

Yes, it’s true that through counselling, individuals who have struggled in their attempts to cope with emotional problems and issues have found some help. However, it does not offer all the answers, neither does it provide a cure. Consider it to be more like a first step, or first aid for emotional problems and some mental health issues.

What counselling provides?

Counselling helps address a number of challenges ranging from adjusting to changes in school or work, personal difficulties that may relate to personality traits, challenges in relationships with others, and managing stress — among others.

A major aspect of the practice is that there is no such thing as medicinal treatment involved. It is important to note that while a counselor or psychologist may have a PhD, and would be addressed as ‘Doctor’, (s)he’s not a medical professional. Counselling as a practice, attempts to help solve problems without the need to prescribe medication.

What a counselor does is to provide a safe space where you as a client can share your thoughts and feelings. In simpler terms, a space for you to vent without judgement.

At the initial stages, what your counselor does is to listen. From then on, their task would evolve to include them helping you identify the source of the problem and areas in your life that have been impacted. Next, you’d get to agree on things that would have to be done differently so as to arrive at a different or the desired result. And as a final step, you’d learn to build or improve on your coping and communication skills, as well as decision making and assertiveness.

One more thing of importance to note is that this is a process which is done at a pace that is most comfortable to the client. There’s nothing forced about it, and if clients feel they are incapable of going through with a session, they get to reschedule to a latter date.

Where can I get a counselor?

Here in Ghana, there are a number of professional practices in the capital, Accra, including Mind Matters at Haatso, as well as the Open Door Counselling Service, among many others. Finding and settling on a particular service should depend on the client’s preference. You should do well to look into the service and only after your assessment should you make the decision to book a counselor’s services.

To conclude…

The effort must be made to dispel the misconception that seeking counselling is an admission that one is becoming mentally incapable or incompetent; because that is far from the truth. It takes much courage for one to do some introspection, and decide to get some additional help, or assistance.

Every now and then we’ll all find ourselves in situations that leave us overwhelmed. Situations that we’ll have to cope with, and yes, we all have the ability to cope. The important thing is for us to cope in a healthy way. Getting professional help would go a long way to help establish that.

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