Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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Considering Counseling? Ambivalence is Normal

Christopher Perez
Some of our counselors have agreed to write short posts introducing themselves and providing their take on various areas of interest. In this post, Christopher Perez shares some valuable insight into what he has learned about the counseling process.

My name is Christopher Perez, and I am currently in the third year of my doctoral training in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. My research interests relate to positive parenting practices. That is, I study what parents can do to increase the likelihood of positive mental health in their children. On the clinical side of things, I have worked with college students, Veterans, and sex offenders, with each setting offering unique challenges that stimulate my eagerness to learn more.

In my training as a therapist, I have noticed a common, yet understandable theme of ambivalence or uncertainty related to engaging in the counseling process. These thoughts, feelings, and concerns are completely normal. Counseling is often an unfamiliar experience, and some level of apprehension is to be expected. At the same time, these concerns can sometimes prevent people from seeking services or keep clients from fully engaging in the counseling process.

In a counseling setting, one of the most important dynamics we emphasize involves the client-therapist relationship. This professional relationship emphasizes safety, transparency, collaborative discussion, and structure. It has been shown time and time again to be successful. Of course, an effective relationship requires a certain level of trust and commitment to the process of change.

Perhaps, you or someone you love has considered counseling. If so, you know that it can be difficult to admit that one could benefit from help. It entails a certain level of vulnerability, courage, and self-awareness. This awareness of one's strengths and areas for growth fuels success in the journey towards positive mental health. When we gain a better understanding of the ways in which our feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors align, as well as how we might better adapt in our daily lives, the options become limitless. Counseling provides individuals with the opportunity to explore personal goals and collaboratively design personal “experiments” to see what works best for achieving them, all with the support of a professional who has their best interests in mind.

It is common for people to think, “Going to counseling means that I am different, or maybe even crazy.” The reality is often the opposite. As counselors, we know you are not “crazy” or “weird.” You might be experiencing weird things, but even if that is the case, these experiences do not define you. And most of the time, the sort of experiences that bring people to counseling are far more common than they realize. With time, dedication, commitment, and patience, most people will benefit from counseling. You have our support, and those of us who provide counseling services at the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic look forward to helping you achieve your goals.

- Post contributed by Christopher M. Perez -