5 – Know Your Counselor

Released Thursday, 7th November 2019
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Episode 5 is the first part of an interview with Sharon Bien, MA, LPC about counseling. Having a relationship with a counselor can help you overcome personal challenges and be empowered with Erika Marcoux, MA.
Sharon has a masters degree in counseling from St. Edwards University in Austin. As a licensed professional counselor with a private practice, she is trained in CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. She has also worked as a social worker in schools, foster care, and homeless outreach.
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What is Counseling?
Counseling psychology specifically focuses on how you function personally, meaning as an individual, and how you function in your relationships with other people.
  • In the 1960s, an American psychologist named Carl Rogers helped shape counseling.
  • It addresses issues that include emotional issues, social issues, problems at work and school, and physical health.
  • Overall, it helps people improve your overall sense of well-being.
What are 5 common myths about counseling?
  • Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness. The truth is that seeking counseling is a way to proactively manage your problems.
  • Counselors will try to put you on medication. The truth is they don’t prescribe medication. Counselors work with psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, when creating collaborative treatment plans for clients who do take medication.
  • Mental health issues are not real problems and counselors are not effective. The truth is that mental health issues are real problems—1 in 5 people are impacted by mental health issues every single day. Counselors can address these problems and help clients find relief.
  • Counseling is a quick fix for all your problems. The truth is that strengthening your brain through counseling is like strengthening your body through exercise. It takes time, practice, patience, and persistence.
  • If you go to counseling, you will be judged negatively. Going into counseling shows that you are willing to learn about yourself and ways to improve your life. It takes courage to contact a counselor. They do not judge their clients—counselors welcome you.
What is a typical counseling session like?
The session is a place where you can find a new perspective about something with which you’re struggling.
  • You can share your situation and your feelings about it, and then get your counselors perspective from a professional standpoint.
  • Counseling is a cooperative exploration and problem-solving process aimed at reducing distress, improving your relationships, and helping you achieve your goals.
  • Some counselors take notes to mark down something important that you said.
  • It’s a different kind of conversation and you would typically have with most other people.
  • Your counselor may even give you homework to do between sessions. This may include taking action steps towards reaching your goal.
What is attachment theory and why is it important?
It’s a model that describes the dynamics of interpersonal relationships between people.
  • Secure attachment occurs when you can rely on someone to attend to your needs of emotional support and protection. It’s the most advantageous attachment style.
  • Anxious- ambivalent attachment occurs when you feel anxious when separated from someone and don’t feel reassured when they return.
  • Anxious- avoidant attachment occurs when you avoid someone close to you.
  • Disorganized attachment occurs when when you lack the ability to attach to someone.
What is the best advice for finding a counselor?
Step 1: Think about who you need
  • If you are looking for someone to talk to, then look for a counselor. If you want someone to prescribe medication, then look for a psychiatrist.
  • Most people treating a mental health condition need at least two professionals, a counselor and a psychiatrist. Get a physical exam to address your biology.
Step 2: Gather referrals
  • If you have health insurance, call your provider. Get at least 3 names and numbers. You can also try PsychologyToday.com
Step 3: Make the call
  • If you’re reluctant to call, ask a friend or family member to call for you. Make an appointment.
Step 4: Ask questions
  • In your first visit with a counselor, you’re seeking advice and you’re “shopping around.” It’s reasonable to ask questions. Be honest.
Step 5: Build a Relationship
  • Sometimes the first person you visit might not “feel right.” With a little persistence, you’ll find the right person for you.
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