The classic dilemma of “should I or shouldn’t I” is explored here by Maxx Bauman. Maxx has worked in the field of Special Education in the area of Behavior Management and is currently a Professional Writer specializing in LGBTQ publications. Because both of Maxx’s parents are licensed therapists, Maxx faced much less self-stigma when considering getting counseling.
Similar to the three important rules in real estate (location, location, location), mental health counseling also has three rules: timing, timing and timing. Other than the concept of timing (I’m ready to make a change or at least seriously consider a change) changing behavior is not complicated; hard work to achieve, but not complicated. To change I only need two things: motivation to change and a replacement behavior. For example, I really want to stop smoking cigarettes and I am motivated because I know that smoking is bad for my health. True, but smoking gives me great pleasure, so now I need a replacement behavior. Chewing gum, healthy snacks and gnawing on a toothpick are common alternates. Of course, there are many other factors such as my environment, my stress level and my support system. This is where counseling comes into play. (Note: the terms counseling and therapy are used interchangeably in this article. The difference in those terms is that “therapy” is regulated in the United States and counseling can be used more generically.)
How do I know if I need counseling?
Content warning: depression, anxiety, mental illness, suicidal ideation,
Do you actively spend time thinking about how other people are happier than you and wonder how it is possible? Squinting your eyes and tilting your head, your brain gives its last “sputter-sputter… ca-thunk” and sizzles steam from your ears as your eyes roll back into your head. You may appreciate seeing a mental health counselor.
Have you ever thought about which way it would be best to end this wicked world, full of hate, lies, and secrets? Imagining your own body being blown to pieces thanks to nuclear warfare is a bit problematic, I would say. You might be grateful you met a counselor somewhere, somehow, someday.
Do you notice yourself persisting in patterns that do not benefit you? Waking up, you reach for that glowing, attention-taking, time-wasting commiseration of space thing, seeing if anyone ~liked~ the video of your cat filing their butt hairs with their teeth last night. It might be time to check in with a professional.
It seems that almost every person could derive something from therapeutic interactions. That is, most people like being heard, empowered, respected, and helped when they are looking for support of that kind.
Are you ready for therapy? Talk therapy isn’t for everyone; there are many other types of therapy for those who feel that healing would happen best in another medium (art, music, exercise…). Decide you are ready to heal before you begin therapy. That is just some unsolicited advice from me for the ease of the group.
For me, the most important part of therapy has been the therapeutic relationship between my therapist and me. You can see my article on Queer Therapists for more details on why having a therapist who represents your identity is valuable and important in the healing process.
For now, ask yourself – am I heard? Am I doing all I can for myself, given what I can and cannot control? Therapy is about giving yourself the gift of living your best life. It is about investing in yourself and seeing where your life goes when you are truly happy with yourself.
U.S. Care: 888-978-3801
Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Authors: Sam Bauman, PhD, Clinical Director, U.S. Care & Maxx Bauman, BS, Professional Writer