10 Key Things Everyone Should Know About Counseling

Posted by Lauren Presutti in Life After Paralysis on July 19, 2022 # Lifestyle

Therapist and wheelchair user; istockphoto; Illustration by Viktoriia MiroshnikovaIn the spinal cord injury community, there is understandably a great deal of attention on your physical health, but it’s also important to maintain your mental wellness. If all you know about counseling is what you’ve seen in movies or television, there are some things you should know because mental health therapy isn’t always depicted accurately in the media. I’m a mental health therapist, and I want to share 10 things everyone should know about counseling:

1. You don’t have to stick with the first therapist you try. Sometimes we just don’t click with a person. After a few weeks of working with a therapist, if you don’t feel comfortable or if you find the relationship to be interfering with your progress, it’s important to speak up. You will not hurt your therapist’s feelings because we understand that not every therapist is right for every person. If you don’t have a good experience with the first therapist you try, don’t give up! Sometimes you just have to try different people until you find the right “fit.”

2. If you’re not being honest, it’s not going to help you. It’s so important to be open and honest during your sessions! Therapists cannot emphasize this enough. People who gain the most from therapy are often completely transparent during sessions. We want you to openly talk about whatever is on your mind – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There is no need to censor yourself.

3. You shouldn’t be in therapy only to please someone in your life. If you’re coming to therapy only because someone in your life has pushed you to be there, that’s not a good reason to go to therapy. People should never feel forced to go to therapy. People who have the best experiences in counseling are there because they want to be there on their own accord. Otherwise, you may feel resentful about the process.

4. Your therapist should not tell you what to do. This may be a shock to some people, but therapists don’t have all the answers, and we generally won’t give you direct advice on what to do or not do. If you’re coming to find out if you and your partner should separate, we won’t be able to answer that for you. We also won’t be able to tell you if you should move to a new city, accept a job offer, purchase something, dye your hair, or get a dog. Therapy is about helping individuals make their own decisions. Your therapist should ask questions and help you sort out the pros and cons, but not tell you how to live your life.

5. You’re allowed to disagree with your therapist. This one might be most important. During sessions, your therapist may provide feedback on what they are noticing in your life. They may point out patterns of behavior or thinking styles that you commonly experience. However, if you disagree with your therapist at any point, you should speak up and correct your therapist! It’s so critical for you to correct your therapist if you feel like there has been a miscommunication.

6. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Your problems weren’t created overnight, and they won’t go away overnight, either. We know it’s frustrating. We know that you want concerns and issues to be resolved as quickly as possible. We empathize and wish we had a magic wand to solve your concerns on the spot. Unfortunately, all change takes time, and there may be some bumps along the road to wellness.

7. It’s okay to change your therapy goals. Therapists understand that life is full of ups and downs and often throws us curveballs when we least expect it. Modifying therapy goals is extremely common. Your initial therapy goals are never set in stone. Therapy should be an evolving process.

8. Being in therapy is a huge sign of strength. Never let anybody tell you otherwise! It takes an enormous amount of personal strength to engage in therapy. Celebrate your strength!

9. There is no right or wrong way to do therapy. Therapy is not a space to be judged, and you don’t get graded in therapy. If you’re a perfectionist, you may find yourself wanting to do therapy “perfectly,” but that simply does not exist because there is no right or wrong way for therapy to be done. Therapy looks different for everyone.

10. You can literally talk about anything. Nothing is off limits! There are no taboo subjects in therapy. Everything you say in therapy is confidential (unless there is a danger to yourself or another person), so you can share your deepest secrets without fear of anyone finding out.

To learn about River Oaks Psychology, visit www.riveroakspsychology.com and follow River Oaks Psychology on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.