By Kelly Wright
September 22, 1997
Just got back from a trip home to Missouri. The trip back to Texas is filled with sadness – I miss my family so much. My time with my parents and especially my grandparents is priceless to me. Grandma Mary and I made her homemade coleslaw together and while we were chopping up cabbage, she asked me about work and what exactly I did as a counselor. I told her I help people deal with adjustments, stressors, and challenges in life. With the confused look on her face, she asked, “Why would anyone go to counseling?”
Seeing a counselor was a completely foreign concept to my grandma’s generation and generations past. My grandma couldn’t imagine why anyone would go see someone and share their struggles. She grew up during the Great Depression and she didn’t share about their stressors. Instead, people of that generation bottled stress and emotions up and hoped they’d just go away. But this wasn’t a solution – many of our grandparents and great-grandparents ended up with somatic or physical issues.
At the beginning of my career, there was a stigma that surrounded counseling. Sadly, many people felt embarrassed or shamed when they reached out to get help with life’s challenges. Some people mistakenly believed that it meant that they couldn’t handle life on their own.
Every one of us could benefit from counseling. Life in the fallen world breaks our hearts.
Early on, many clients I met with expressed a common concern: how “messed up” they had to be that they were in counseling. My response would be that they were actually showing strength and health because they were willing to come in and address their issues. The truth is everyone has issues. The question is: are we working on those issues or are we avoiding them?
Throughout history, we have grown accustomed to care for our physical needs — the basics of food, water, shelter, sleep, oxygen. We also are more inclined to take care of our spiritual needs — our relationship with God, following Jesus, worship, prayer, and reading God’s word. But when it comes to taking care of our emotional needs, many of us don’t know what that even looks like.
How do you know when you need counseling? Psychology Today helps to answer this question with these seven signs:
- Your symptoms interfere with your work.
- Your mood feels “off.”
- Your sleep habits have changed.
- Your psychological health is affecting your physical health.
- You experience unexplained changes in weight.
- You use unhealthy coping skills.
- Your relationships are impacted by your emotional state.
Johari Window is an approach of seeing our life as a window with four panes. The open pane is what we know about ourselves and what others know about us. The hidden pane is the area we know about ourselves, but others don’t know about us. The blind spot pane is what others see about us, but we don’t see about ourselves. The fourth pane is the unknown, what we don’t see and others don’t see either.
Counseling helps address all four panes so we can grow into a healthy, aware individual.
In the spring of 2021, I got back into individual counseling. My husband and I had revisited some early challenges in our marriage and I needed help dealing with unresolved feelings. I needed an outside perspective to help navigate and address feelings I had buried and pushed to the side. I am incredibly grateful for the gift of counseling. It reminded me once again that I’m a human with emotions that I don’t have to carry alone. I think if Grandma Mary were alive today, she’d have a different perspective on the importance of counseling. And as I think of future generations, I am incredibly thankful that my grandchildren will have access to this incredibly helpful resource