Just the word, counseling, often has a negative effect on people, I have noticed. If you want to cause a defensive reaction in someone, suggest gently and without any judgment they would benefit from counseling. Immediately they hear only something is wrong with me. Then wait for the litany of various reasons why counseling will not work or has not worked in the past. Counseling is too expensive, time-consuming, and doesn’t help them. They know someone who went to counseling and boy, did that counselor mess them up. I have even heard the excuse that God, as our Wonderful Counselor, did not endorse other counseling, despite the many verses in Proverbs about how a wise man surrounds himself with counselors and seeks out wisdom with his whole strength.
But I have benefitted greatly from the counselors in my life, and those who I send to counseling often benefit greatly as well. So here is a list of very human conditions that I regularly see counseling help alleviate. If you suffer significantly from one of the following, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that counseling might be of some benefit.
- Compulsive Behavior. This one seems like a gimme, but for some reason, many sufferers often exclude their particular behavior from the list of compulsive behaviors. Sure, drug addicts need counseling, but I can give up pornography, overeating, video games, and/or other risky behaviors any time I want, I hear people say. Some people do, I am sure. But if you really want to be free, having a professional in your corner helps a lot. They might even know some things you don’t. After all, they might have learned something in all those years of practice and education. Just saying.
- Unresolved Emotion. We place a lot of faith in time as a healer. But sometimes it isn’t. Grief, fear of commitment, anxiety, impulsivity, and self-loathing are just a few emotions that can feel like a tsunami. If you feel out of control of your emotional weather patterns, why not call in the Coast Guard? Counselors are great at locating and teaching you to prevent the underwater earthquakes that cause those tsunamis. The whole idea is to get you safely onto the shore.
- Being Stuck. Are you stuck in your job, in your relationships, in your life? Feeling trapped can have a profound effect on your life. We cannot always see our lives from a bird’s eye view. Sometimes we need someone else to give it a go. Maturity is not easy to achieve. Every living thing needs external input to grow. So let a counselor fertilize your fallow life.
- Others have suggested it to you. If you have people in your life who irritate you continually by singing the you should try counseling song, then you need to get with the groove. Many of us human beings suffer from what is called a lack of insight awareness. This means that you cannot see yourself and the effect you have on others clearly. If there are people in your life who love you enough to risk your anger by suggesting that you see a professional counselor, these two things are probably true. You are lucky enough to have people who love you, and you are hurting yourself and them in some way. Just do it.
- Repetitive Thoughts. Trapped in a cage inside your own brain? The brain is complicated. Best call in a locksmith who has the combination to the lock keeping you a prisoner. Repetitive thoughts are dangerous and miserable. Why not take the chance that maybe you can get free?
- No Emotion. If you feel nothing, it is probably not because you are unemotional. Either you are a sociopath (which is unlikely) or you are dissociative. Being detached from your self is living a half-life. And here is the truth you are avoiding: your body feels it whether you acknowledge it or not. For me, stress looks a lot like back pain. Others get hives, ulcers, or high blood pressure. And being dissociative is no joke. Emotions are incredibly important to having relationships and a fulfilling life. The choice not to feel is the choice to not be human.
- Trauma. If you have even one traumatic event in your life, you would benefit from some counseling. We have this myth we believe about trauma. We believe we can get over it. You can heal from trauma. You can have a good life despite the presence of trauma. But trauma has a permanent effect on the topography of our brains. You are not the same person before and after trauma. Learn your own landscape for your own sake, and for others.
- You are not physically well. Exhausted? In constant pain? The body and the mind are intimately connected. I remember ministering to a lady who had chronic pain. As we went into prayer ministry, her body began to act out. And as we would look at each pain, a memory would crop up. Her body held memories of trauma. Jesus resolved those memories, and her body stopped hurting. What connections have your brain and body made? Go to counseling and find out.
If this post seems nagging to you, it totally is. Would you go to court without a lawyer? Would you build a house without an architect? Here is the deal. Some counselors are better than others. Shop around just like you would for a good lawyer or plumber.
But if you choose to live your life in constant unhappiness, do not fool yourself into thinking that it is God’s will or that there is no help for you.
You are not the first or the last to suffer. You may need to fight for a good life. But being saved from misery requires your participation and others too. Go for it. You are utterly worth it.