The counseling process is, in many ways, like an educational experience. The individual can learn more about him/herself, but also acquires new skills. Sometimes, counseling involves learning more about a particular condition (e.g., depression, anxiety, eating disorders) by which the person is affected, so that he/she can better understand treatment options. Below are some examples of what students can gain from personal counseling:
- improved communication and interpersonal skills
- greater self-acceptance and self-esteem
- ability to change self-defeating behaviors/habits
- better expression and management of emotions, including anger
- relief from depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions
- increased confidence and decision-making skills
- ability to manage stress effectively
- improved problem-solving and conflict resolution abilities
- greater sense of self and purpose
- recognition of distorted thinking
Common misconceptions about counseling
Because you may not know someone who has received psychological or personal counseling, you may have some questions about what it is like. You may also have heard some things that just aren’t true. Here are some common misconceptions about counseling:
- If I need help, something is wrong with me. I must be broken or abnormal. Just like with physical illness, mental illness and addiction are medical problems. You wouldn’t say that someone who has cancer or the flu is broken.
- No one will understand my problem. I don’t deserve help. One in four American adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. There are many people who know are here to listen and help. You deserve to feel healthy and whole.
- If I come in for an appointment, you will send me to the hospital. Students are often concerned that if they disclose that they are contemplating suicide, they will be hospitalized or asked to take time off. While the College’s highest priority is the health and safety of our students, we understand that many students experience suicidal thoughts without ever acting on them. We work with students to determine what will best address their needs, which often means jointly creating a plan to ensure their safety.
- They’ll put me on pills that will put me in a fog, and I’ll never be able to stop taking them. As with physical illnesses, some mental health disorders will require short- or long-term medication regimens. It can be an important part of treatment, but it should never make you feel like you’re not yourself or in control.
- If I just try harder, I won’t need treatment. Mental health and substance abuse treatment is for people who have an illness that deserves treatment, just as much as any other illness. It can’t be cured by trying harder or ignoring the problem.
- People will think less of me if I seek help. At Coe, we work hard to combat this stigma every day. While we encourage our students to talk to their loved ones and community members about their health, we also respect our students’ privacy. Did you know that 46% of Coe students surveyed on the 2017 ACHA survey have sought out counseling in the past?
- Therapy is just a lot of talking; I can get the help I need from my friends. While a strong support system of friends and family is very important, there are things that we can help you with that your loved ones might not be able to. Our training and experience helps us know all the tricky ways that your mental illness can trip you up and how to overcome your hurdles.
- If I get treatment, I’ll have to keep going forever. Our goal is always to get you back into your “normal” functioning as quickly as possible. While some people may need long-term treatment, many individuals just need a few weeks or months to deal with their problem.
- I can’t afford it. Coe offers several options for students to seek mental health and psychological support at no cost. If we feel that your needs would best be suited off-campus, we will work with students and their health insurance providers to cover some form of mental health treatment; it may be less expensive than you think. For those without insurance or those whose insurance doesn’t cover mental health treatment, you may also be able apply for assistance at some agencies in the community.