Saturday, December 8, 2018

Counseling Helps the Whole Person

When I started engaging in counseling 11 years ago I assumed the scope of the sessions would focus on medicine, and my mental illness. However, nobody should assume. Counseling applies practical problem-solving demands to the stresses of life that impacts peers living in recovery. Counseling may help an individual manage diverse concerns such as codependency, low self-esteem, and motivation to be your best self, etc.! Therefore, if you're newly diagnosed, or do not have diverse experience with counselors my experience, which I will share can help. I will focus on the benefits of counseling from personal experience. There are several benefits to counseling, however, I will focus on only three, here.

#1- Counseling focuses on the whole person.
#2- Counseling encourages growth.
#3- Counseling can be ongoing.

First, a significant benefit of counseling is its focus on the whole person. The doctor or psychiatrist concentrate on treating symptoms, and prescribing appropriate medication. Counselors support doctor recommendations, however, they are more attentive to the daily challenges impacting the person's overall mental health such as emotions within relationships that add stress, and triggers symptoms, or a diverse range of concerns. Yes, we talk about side effects, my condition, and how I choose to manage my recovery in counseling sessions, but moreover, the sessions add balance to life through reflection, and discussion, which relationships with friends cannot help like a professional can.

Second, counseling encourages growth. I appreciate counseling for helping me identify strengths, and opportunities to advance them. Counselors are creatively resourceful. I am a peer counselor, otherwise known as a certified peer specialist (CPS). My counselor identified the CPS training and position as an area that I could achieve. They referred me to the CPS training that teaches peers how to articulate their recovery experience, in order, to bring other peers into the realization that they can overcome challenges of stigma, and of life, by identifying inner strength, passion, and goals to explore, and to live well in recovery.

A CPS is a peer in recovery that counsels other peers by lived experience, giving encouragement, and supporting the goals of others. Certified peer specialists are a growing profession within the mental health field. I enjoy motivating peers by sharing my recovery experiences, facilitating recovery-oriented meetings among related skills, and talents. The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, offers CPS training. This organization can be a great example to states that do not offer this training and position.

Finally, the practice of engaging in counseling sessions does not have to be for only a season. Counseling could be ongoing, or under need basis from time to time. I maintain counseling to work on myself, but that's not to say that a peer must have a counselor to better manage. However, I highly recommend counseling through major events such as setbacks in wellness, and life's significant stresses. These life stresses may include: changes in job placement, education, grief, and relocation. Moreover, counseling helped me get back on track in the past through events that required transition and enabled me to practice resiliency to the fullest!

Overall, the greatest benefit of counseling is self-improvement on the whole person. Counseling helps peers practice balance, growth, and to work on their whole person for life, if so desired. In fact, online counseling is available. Thus, I encourage peers to view counseling as an option, and not a chore for recovery solely for one's mental health condition, because counseling helps the whole person.

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