The Counseling Connection

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by Lara Govendo |

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Despite battling chronic illness, I managed to stumble through six years of college. Obtaining my master’s degree in mental health and school counseling was a herculean feat. But I didn’t power through it on my own: I believe in my own product and have had therapy on and off since college.

Our society has been conditioned to believe “counseling is only for the crazies.” I’ve heard that belief plenty of times. People are quick to judge what they don’t understand. From the outside looking in, it may appear that those seeking help for mental and emotional wellness are weak. On the contrary, asking for help takes tremendous inner strength. One must release the elevated ego that supposes all things can be handled alone; it’s an act of humble human nature. We must end the shame stigma of counseling and normalize its supportive effectivity.

Seeing medical doctors is comparable to seeing counselors. After all, mental health wellness plays a key role in physical wellness. Mental and emotional struggles can manifest as physical symptoms; the realization of this truth is essential to societal progress in overall wellness.

According to the American Counseling Association, counseling (also called therapy) is “a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.” Counseling sessions can explore various avenues, such as coping skills development, conflict resolution strategy, healing from trauma, and assistance with growing into the person you were designed to be. Counseling is self-empowerment that expedites your growth game.

Writing goals: Keep your growth game strong! (Photo by Lara Govendo)

Everyone can benefit from therapy. It’s wise to listen to a third-party voice that isn’t directly involved in your life. A few therapists have helped me completely transform my life. My college therapist’s encouragement propelled me to becoming a confident, goal-achieving student. Before starting my lung transplant evaluation process, I found a therapist to walk the journey with me and help process difficult emotions. Since my transplant, another therapist has helped me heal from physical and emotional trauma.

As a therapist, I’ve worked with several different populations, each being unique in their needs for support. Not every counselor will be helpful with what you want to work on. While seeking a counselor, it’s helpful to frame the initial meetings as a job interview. Remember to find a counselor who has similar values, uses an approach in alignment with your growth pattern, and holds a skillset necessary for your unique needs. These elements are essential for successful therapy.

It’s important to realize that counselors are human, too, so holding them to a standard of perfectionism is damaging. If the pairing isn’t a good fit, then simply be honest with yourself and the counselor. It doesn’t benefit either party to continue. The goal is to develop a therapeutic relationship. If that isn’t met, then move on. Making that call also depends on where you’re at with your desire for growth, as it determines the type of counseling you need — each therapist has their own specialty. Be clear about what you’re looking for so you can find a counselor that best suits your needs.

Ultimately, counseling is an investment in your life. Committing to weekly sessions will produce positive results. Asking yourself these questions will help direct your search: What goals do I want to accomplish? Which do I need help with? Am I willing to do the inner work necessary to achieve my desired life?

My experiences on both the giving and receiving ends of counseling have afforded me the unique opportunity of understanding both positions. Each therapist I’ve had has played an important role in shaping who I am today. I’m forever grateful for their care and assistance through various seasons of my life. In my therapist role, I’ve learned important life lessons from my clients by witnessing their life journey. I’m inspired by the ability possessed by each human to overcome difficulties with courageous tenacity. It’s been an honor to assist them through this process and truly powerful to witness their radical life transformations.

I hope we all learn the value of walking alongside each other through our shared struggles.

April is Counseling Awareness Month. Have you considered seeking a counselor? Click here to assist you with finding one in your area.

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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