Well, you’ve made it this far: the last blog entry regarding the most common counseling myths I hear when people are trying to figure out if counseling is for them. And conveniently enough we can tie the last two myths together because they go hand-in-hand. They are:
MYTH #4: Counseling isn’t really effective at solving my problems (i.e. Isn’t there a pill for what ails me?)
MYTH #5: Counseling isn’t a good use of my time or money (i.e. There are quicker fixes that cost less and require less emotional investment and energy)
Before I dialog about this, take a few minutes and watch this video:
[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvcOivVzCaI[/youtube]
I posted this video because it speaks to both of the myths I’m addressing today. My guess is that if you think counseling isn’t effective at solving problems and isn’t a good use of time or money, then you’ve fallen into the great American belief that there should be a quick, painless fix for all our problems. I mean, think about how many TV commercials we see every day that promote the latest and greatest pharmaceutical products: they do everything from grow hair to alleviate depression and anxiety to help you sleep at night. No need to change anything about YOU—just let a chemical concoction do it for you. But have you listened to the laundry-list of side effects that go along with the drugs? Seems like the cure could be worse than the ailment most of the time! But, that’s the world we live in: the fast-food, drive-through approach that gives us what we want when we want it, regardless of the cost.
But is this quick-fix approach working? Let’s take a look at each of today’s myths and find out.
If you hesitate at the idea of coming in for counseling because you feel like it won’t be effective (myth #4), consider this: research has shown that counseling or other forms of psychotherapy are just as helpful as drug therapy—if not more so, in some cases. For example, mild depression is treated as effectively through therapy as it is by prescription drugs, and the only side effects are being happier and healthier! Furthermore, research evidence shows that psychotherapy is such an effective treatment for people experiencing things like depression or anxiety that most people attain or return to a level of functioning that is typical of well-functioning individuals in the general population after just a relatively short course of treatment. Sure beats a daily prescription for depression or anxiety that you could end up taking for years, don’t you think?
Another benefit of counseling is the individualized, personalized attention you receive. A good counselor understands there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to navigating a person’s life and a generic formula that will make everything better, so she/he will take the time to really get to know you: what you’ve been through, what you’re going through now, your strengths, your weaknesses, your hurts, habits or hang-ups, even your age, gender and race. All of this (and more) is addressed as you start the journey to health and healing. And while this approach does take more time than a simple visit to the doctor and the filling of a prescription, the effects can be much longer-lasting (more on that in a minute).
“But what about the cost?” you ask. “Counseling is expensive and time consuming and I’m just not sure I’m into that” (Myth #5). Fair enough. You can read back to my first blog post that addresses some of the issues in regards to the monetary cost of counseling, but let’s take a peek at some research-based evidence that shows your input of time and money is definitely well-spent when you work with a counselor.
In the research I did to write this post, I found that the results of psychotherapy tend to last longer and be less likely to require additional treatment courses than psychopharmacological treatments. What this means is that throughout the course of therapy a person acquires a variety of skills that continue to be used and improved upon even after therapy is over. So, basically, you learn how to live life better and how to cope more effectively with what life is throwing your way; in other words, what once might have thrown you into a tailspin is now merely a bump in the road because your counselor has given you the tools to respond in a more appropriate way. What this can mean for you is that in the long haul, you have less stress or anxiety or worry or despair or __________ in your life. The result is a healthier and happier you emotionally, which effects you physically. Translated practically this means a reduction in medical costs to keep you going strong throughout the years. In fact, research shows that psychotherapy is cost-effective as it reduces disability, morbidity and mortality, improves work functioning, decreases the use of psychiatric hospitalization, and at times also leads to reduction in the unnecessary use of medical and surgical services. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
If you’re still unsure about how you feel in regards to counseling, do a little research of your own. We encourage you to! In fact, a great place to start is the American Psychological Association website (www.apa.org), especially if you’re of the more analytical mindset. They have plenty of research-based articles and evidence to support what I addressed in this article, and much more. And, as always, feel free to call me if you have any questions. I enjoy helping people determine if counseling is for them and even if Cornerstone is a good fit as a counseling center. For us, the most important thing is that you get the help you need so that you can live life to the full, just as God intended (John 10:10).
We hope to join you in your journey!