Legitimate reasons to go to therapy?
I don't have what would qualify for legitimate reason to go to the campus counseling center. Is this service typically only for medical related problems? I just want to be able to talk to someone about some of my problems right now. I feel like I "know" the answer to all my questions (regarding time management, developing healthy eating and sleeping habits, confusion, signs of depression, life management, etc., etc.). However, I thought it would be helpful to talk to a professional that would help me talk through some of things I'm thinking about. Who can I see?
People seek out counseling for many reasons, and support with developing habits and managing day-to-day life are certainly some of them! While many people wait until they are in a crisis situation to seek help, some find it helpful to talk with someone about concerns as they arise and to learn behaviors that will help you function in healthy and efficient ways. Working with a professional is a great way to keep healthy, happy, and knowledgeable about your inner workings. Additionally, while you may find a counselor to be a great resource, you may also find that other health professionals can provide the support you're seeking.
It may be helpful to know that many people go to counseling for a variety of reasons, ranging from trying to find balance in the busy day-to-day doings to getting treatment for psychological conditions from an expert. The concerns you describe are common starting points for many people in counseling. Other people start therapy after noticing a symptom for a mental illness, such as unwanted behaviors, certain feelings or thoughts, as well as physiological reactions. It can be tempting to try to figure your issues out on your own. However, just as you’ve suspected, consulting with someone who can help you objectively look at the factors that may be causing you distress can be beneficial. For example, they may help you identify issues or patterns that you may not have been able to previously see or realize — and identifying those will help you inform changes in your life. Ultimately, the goal of seeking help with these issues is to help you cope in a healthy way and function better in the future — both of which are critical to your academic success!
After deciding whether or not you want to speak to a mental health professional, the next step may involve finding the right fit for you. If you're still in school, you may be able to schedule an appointment with your campus counseling center. Some college counseling centers offer a variety of support, including individual, group, and couples counseling. Additionally, they may also provide workshops on a number of commonly experienced concerns, such as time management and developing healthy habits. If you do go check out the counseling services, it may be a good idea to peruse the staff bios. Getting a sense of who you might like to speak with based on their areas of expertise may help you find a good match and make you feel more comfortable about taking the leap to get into counseling. And, once you get started, if you find that the provider you started with isn’t the right fit for you, it’s okay to switch to a different provider with whom you feel you may have a better connection. For many people, this is a normal part of their process to find the provider that best fits them.
Lastly, it’s also worth exploring your options for assistance outside of your campus counseling services. Many campuses also employ health promotion specialists and health educators who can talk with you about a multitude of resources and strategies to tackle topics such as life and time management, healthy eating habits, sleep hygiene, and stress coping. You may try this option and see if utilizing some of the advice shared by those professionals meets your needs. Additionally, some of these offices may offer wellness coaching, which is a practice that helps a person change behaviors so they can incorporate them and new habits into their lives. Wellness coaching is often done with a certified wellness and health coach. Working with a wellness coach focuses more on being action-oriented, meaning that your work with the coach is to either achieve or improve upon something. Paying for wellness coaching may vary by school. Some schools may have it included in their fees already, while others may have a separate charge for the services. If your school has wellness coaching and you'd like to check it out, you can reach out to the office to find out more about their payment models.
All this to say, whether you seek out the help of the counseling service or other health professionals on your campus, learning more about how to incorporate changes into your life doesn’t have to be done on your own. Hope this information helps!
Originally published Aug 29, 2008
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