Some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of attending mental health counseling because they are concerned that there is a stigma attached to receiving counseling. In reality, millions of people find the help they need through counseling every year. The 2019 National Health Interview Survey found that 19.2 percent of all U.S. adults received some form of mental health treatment that year.
Counseling can have so many positive effects that virtually anyone could gain from speaking to a therapist. Here are four ways anyone can benefit from mental health counseling.
1. Develop Techniques to Manage Stress
Stress is a psychological and physiological reaction to the demands of life. Chronic high levels of stress can be a significant interference in daily life until you learn how to manage your response to stress. Counseling is an opportunity to speak to professionals with years of experience helping people get better control of the stress in their lives. Effective stress management can even reduce your risk of health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic pain.
Managing stress effectively requires both developing healthy coping mechanisms and eliminating unhealthy coping mechanisms. Therapists regularly help patients work through behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse, self-harm, overeating, gambling, and other destructive addictions. Tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy help people from all walks of life manage stress safely.
2. Learn to Recognize Self-Defeating Behaviors
Self-defeating behaviors are any actions that work against achieving one's own goals. It may seem strange that self-defeating behaviors are commonplace among rational, well-adjusted people. The truth is that anyone can struggle with self-defeating behaviors when they learn — consciously or unconsciously — that those behaviors relieve stress in some part of their life.
Procrastination and perfectionism are two of the most common self-defeating behaviors that are often seen in school or work environments. Other examples include people-pleasing, self-loathing, and social withdrawal.
A common thread among self-defeating behaviors is that they have a trigger: a specific event, location, or circumstance that causes stress and exacerbates the behavior. Counseling can help you identify triggers for self-defeating behaviors and manage your reactions in a healthier way.
3. Set Personal Goals and Create Plans
Sometimes, all you need is to take a step back and get organized. It will be much easier to change anything you are unhappy with in life if you have structured, step-by-step plans to achieve your goals. A feeling of making progress can be especially therapeutic for people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. A counselor can help you create a plan for the future and offer advice if your decision-making isn't in line with your goals.
4. Build Interpersonal Skills
Conditions like depression and anxiety that affect your mental health make it harder to communicate and express yourself with family, friends, and coworkers. People who are feeling isolated from those around them for any reason need a clear path to reconnect with others. Counseling can act as a bridge to begin rebuilding one's social skills and to practice communication in a safe, judgment-free environment.
Counseling to build interpersonal skills can take many forms depending on the needs of the individual. Sessions may focus on specific social situations that call for assertiveness, conflict resolution, or general listening and communication skills. Counseling can help if you feel like your interactions with others often don't go the way you intended.
Sometimes, having someone to talk to is all it takes to make a seemingly insurmountable problem much more manageable. Mental health professionals can provide unique perspectives built on years of helping clients improve their lives. If you feel like you need greater support in your life, counseling may be the first step toward the happiness you deserve! Contact a company that offers mental health services to learn more.