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Counseling | Oakland | Berkeley

Many people who seek counseling or psychotherapy are guided by bad advice, misinformation and just plain nonsense. Deciding to engage in counseling or psychotherapy in order to address your emotional needs and obtain the benefits that counseling and psychotherapy can offer is a brave decision. Don’t let anyone derail you from this path.


People will scoff at you. Why do you need to see a counselor? Are you crazy? You don’t need someone to tell what to do.


Real friends don’t mock friends who are considering counseling. Think of the saying “misery loves company.” How come this person doesn’t want you to get help? A counselor’s job is to help you figure out what would be best for you.


It’s expensive or people may think you’re rich or have money to waste.

Part 1 Response:

If you are overly concerned about what people think about you, I would say counseling is in order. As a person, you’re learning to prioritize things that are important to you so that you can accomplish the things you would like in your life. Becoming emotionally healthy is an excellent priority. Many things in life cost money. Counseling costs money.

Part 2 Response:

Counseling or psychotherapy requires a financial commitment. If you're not able to pay out of pocket for counseling consider using your health insurance. Many people have mental health benefits through their health insurance. There is usually substantial coverage or reimbursement for the counseling fee if you see an in network provider minus any deductibles and co-pays. Call your health insurance plan and ask about your counseling benefits.

Part 3 Response:

Many counselors and psychotherapists have one or two reduced fee or sliding fee slots. Some even have pro bono spots. Many have pro bono spots for veterans. Counselors’ fees vary wildly. However, don’t all go running to find the free slots as these slots are usually reserved for folks who truly need it not just because you want something for free. Additionally, lower fee psychotherapy sessions are usually available at community counseling centers.


You’re too busy.


If you watch 2 hours or more of TV, surf the internet 2 hours or more, or any combination of the two per week, that’s right per week, not per day, you have time for counseling or psychotherapy.


You already talk to your friends and family.


It’s great if you have friends and family that are supportive. When that stops working then it’s time to see an expert. Friends and family often do not know what to do in complicated emotional situations. Friends and family can also give really bad advice such as ignore it, drink, do drugs, pretend the problem isn't there or hope that the problem will go away.


You will be forced to take pills or you only want a pill but won't get one.


You and your counselor will work together to determine if medication could be helpful. Your counselor will most likely have you evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner regarding decisions about medications. If pills alone were the answer lots of people would be doing great. Medication is often one component of mental health treatment and frequently needs to be in conjunction with ongoing counseling.


You are ashamed or embarrassed. What do you tell people?


These feelings are not uncommon for folks seeking counseling but the truth is that these feelings are misplaced. Getting emotional help is an act of courage. At the same time this is a private issue and therefore a need to know issue. Counseling and psychotherapy is confidential. If folks who don’t need to know are inquisitive about your life, tell them you have a proctologist or gynecologist appointment.


Counseling doesn’t work.


Counseling is a serious endeavor and investment. There is usually no quick fix for long standing emotional problems and issues. Don’t expect something that has been going on for years to miraculously go away after 3 sessions. Counseling is hard work. Click here for information on two popular types of counseling which may help you decide what type of counseling might work best for you.

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