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What Happens in Counseling?
People have many wrong ideas about what happens in counseling (also called therapy). The most common thing that happens is a private conversation with a counselor where someone can privately share what they're thinking. People go to counseling to talk to someone who can help them get through hard parts in their lives. Usually, this means sharing what is hard with a person who listens and doesn’t judge you or tell others. They can also help you come up with a plan about how to change things that you want to get better at. Most of the time, counseling is short (usually 2-5 meetings). Some people like to see a counselor for longer and may go for many years.
Who provides counseling can be a bit confusing. Many different people offer counseling. Here is a short list:
- Social Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- School Counselors
If you want to find a counselor, a good way to start is to ask a teacher or your doctor. They can give you good suggestions of many safe people to talk to.
- Stigma is the number one reason people do not seek help for mental illness.
What does Mental Health Medication do?
Mental health medication is like regular medication. It comes from a doctor to help you get over a sickness (in this case a mental health issue). Many people get this medicine from their regular doctor. Some people go to a special doctor called a psychiatrist. Mental health medications are as safe as any other medication. They have been tested by the government, doctors, and scientists to assure that they are safe and helpful. Mental health medications can be used for a short time or long time depending on your needs. Many people believe untrue things about mental health medications. They think that these medications take away your personality or change who you are. These beliefs are a form of stigma. Stigma is untrue negative beliefs about mental illness and its treatment.
The National Institute on Mental Health has some great information on these medications.
What about Group Therapy or Support Groups?
Many people use group therapy or support groups to find information and support about mental illness. In group therapy, people come together and share their experiences with mental illness. These groups are run by a therapist. Many people go to group therapy as a regular part of their treatment. People also go to support groups that don't always have a therapist. These groups allow them to meet with other people to talk about hope, recovery, coping, and other topics. Not all people that attend a group have a mental illness. For example, there are groups for family members of people who have a mental illness, but who don't have one themselves. Many different groups exist for many different reasons. Some are for LGBTQ identified people. Others are for a specific illness. Some may even be for certain ages, genders, or other groups.
Who else Provides Mental Health Support?
People in need of mental health support get help from different people. There are many other people than just therapists that can help. If you are having a crisis, it's a good idea to call 911 and get support from police or emergency responders. At school, people often get support from a teacher, principal, or school counselor. Most people who take mental health medication get it from their regular doctor or nurse. People may also ask for help from someone at their church or temple. The truth is, most trustworthy people can provide extra help. If you need support, it is better to tell someone than it is to keep it a secret.
Below are two links that can be helpful if you would like to find a group:
Mental Health America: Support Groups