How does counseling help people?

Does counseling really do anything that can help people?

Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

A lot of things affect how helpful counseling is for each person, including at least these things, but often many others:

  • The therapeutic alliance (this refers to the bond, connection, or trust between the client and the counselor)
  • What the person is coming in to work on
  • How motivated the person is to work on what it is they would like to change

Some people also ask how counseling is different from friendship. There is a similarity in the sense that hopefully both counselors and friends will listen to what you are experiencing, but that is really the end of the similarities. Some differences are:

  • Counselors are specifically trained to phrase questions or statements in ways that help you to gain more awareness of one could be contributing to what it is that you are trying to change, both within yourself, and possibly with people around you
  • Counselors have experience in using lots of different types of techniques (for example, focusing on finding solutions, looking at how the present situation could relate to your past, using role-plays or examples in session to help you learn new skills or ways of looking at situations, and probably hundreds of other things)
  • Counselors are taught to look at what you are experiencing and ask questions about other related ideas that you may not have connected to what you are experiencing
  • There is a treatment plan in place (usually after the first, second, or third session) so both you and the counselor have an idea of where you would like to go with counseling (what you are hoping to change or learn) and a general idea of a plan for getting to your goals

In general, I would say the following:

  • Yes, counseling can help people who want something to be different in their lives
  • Counseling is most helpful when the connection between the counselor and the client is strong enough that some trust forms (in other words, not every counselor or technique is helpful for every person)
  • A lot of counselors will talk to you on the phone for a few minutes prior to you coming in for your first appointment to answer any general questions that you may have
  • If you are working with a counselor and you feel as though you are not "clicking" or connecting with one another, give it three or four sessions before you change. Trust is not happening in one hour for most of people
  • If you are working with a counselor and you would like to be getting more or something different out of it, tell the counselor about that because typically modalities can be changed
  • If you are asking this question because you would like help with a specific issue, call a local counselor and discuss it so that you could have a more specific answer about possible options for counseling
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.

View 17 other answers

More Answers