Counseling/Psychotherapy. I am not”Crazy” Who Should Have Counseling and Why?

Sadly, there is still a stigma on people who are  aware in a healthy way, and understand  that  counseling  is effective when one is NOT in a crisis!

Counseling will be less effective, or not effective, if one seeks it only when in an emotional crisis or trauma, when our minds’ are already confused and our hearts in pain! Why? Because we are not that crisis, that moment in time and space when something negative happens to turn our lives upside down! We are on a path which slowly, sometimes in ways we are not aware of, leads us to the moment of crisis. Thus, knowing healthy techniques to  understand ourselves, our triggers, good and bad, our patterns, will help us to take care and go through a  crisis smoothly.

Our health system, unfortunately, doesn’t make it easy to seek and stay in therapy until one truly is healed. As a result, many suffer in silence for various reasons:

Am I going to loose my job if it is found out I see a therapist? Can I afford to pay $200-$400 out of pocket and not go through my insurance! My insurance only pays for the first ten sessions… the first of two are paperwork!

Generally, unless a crisis occurs the person, or family will wait until the bomb pushed down in the darkness of the soul comes up and explodes, and here is the CRISIS! Many times too late!

I’d like to share a few thoughts that went through my mind, and  perhaps through yours, concerning this topic:

Oh well, I really don’t need counseling because I have smart friends who advice me, they know me best!!! A counselor gets paid, he/she doesn’t really care. It’s a job! If they don’t pay, counseling stops!

It is too expensive!

I don’t have time. I have to get a baby-sitter, more money! It’s hard to get an appointment!

It’s too far and  gas is expensive!

I really do not want to stir those childhood traumas, the abuse, rape, sudden death of a parent… what good would that do? It would just upset me more and hold me back in the past instead of living in the present and planning my future!

Many years ago, as a young wife and mother, coming to the US from Eastern Europe, a communist country at the time, I was faced for the first time with the need of family therapy. WE had a crisis!

Before the marriage crisis, back in Romania,  psychotherapy wasn’t something I  would  have ever considered. In my young mind, it was reserved for the crazies. NOT ME!!! 

Slowly, but steadily, my views changed and I understood, at last, that counseling is not for the people who are already in an emotional crisis, but to AVOID a crisis. Of course in a crisis, there is urgent and immediate help: CALL 911, go to your nearest Crisis Center or Emergency Room!

I do have amazing friends, smart, loving. They are also too close, they are in my  picture. No matter how well intended, we cannot give valid counseling for people who are so close to us.  The same principle why a doctor takes her/his sick child to a colleague.

A good counselor has years of education and knows techniques that will help one for the rest of their lives to ease or avoid the crisis.

The  therapeutic relationship of trust and mutual respect is essential to the success of therapy. That trust  and therapeutic relationship on the part of  both client and counselor is the foundation of successful therapy.

I also think one is a more understanding counselor if they, themselves, experienced the feelings of being clients, the doubts and the fears and especially the courage to seek help.

I have become a different person thanks to counseling, on and off, over the years. I finally understood my childhood patterns and my foundation. We cannot heal on quick sands, our childhoods are our foundations which  must be strong and understood by us.

A pattern, repeats itself making one’s life miserable. Once one understands, it becomes a life lesson which propels one forward in a positive way.

Life and tragedies happen. To some, more than to others… I felt this was what happened in my life, but  I did not want to be a victim!I I understood I could not control or change what happened. What I could control was my RESPONSE to the events.

This was what counseling did for me! It prepared me for the  unspeakable tragedies which rained on me ALL in ONE YEAR!!! A FLOOD!!!

I doubt I would have had the same response had I not been prepared and had I not known that I could not control the events, but my response. Yes, easier said than done, especially if your children are involved. It is not easy, this is why it takes time. 

Yes, I was “entitled” to be a victim! My choice was to earn my M.S. in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, so I understand in depth and help others going through the ups and downs of life.

After 12 years as the owner and practitioner of a successful wellness business, at a time when life  and illness overwhelmed  me and my family, I applied and was accepted for my Master’s degree in Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia . I KNEW I HAD A CHOICE! I give credit to therapy for making me aware I had choices.

I believe one is a better counselor if she/he was also in the position of being a client (Patient),  knows first hand the range of emotions, the doubts, fear and courage it takes to seek help.

I also believe that  the counselor-client professional relationship  of trust and respect is the key to successful therapy.

Why I chose to be an online Counselor?  I trust  cyber therapy is the way of the future.

I applied to a reputable online company, Proven Therapy (  which reviews it’s therapists’ credentials before approval, and all therapists on the team are highly qualified professionals with a minimum Master’s degree.

I was very interested to discover how online  counseling works versus face-to-face.

What I discovered was that the real issue, was stated by the client upfront. Knowing the truth upfront is a huge  advantage for successful therapy. I also discovered that thanks to the reasonable fees and convenience, as well as complete confidentiality, people choose to return to counseling regularly.

 Being an online counselor  gives me the rewarding feeling that I could be available for my clients 24/7, when they need me, that I may slide my fees to meet their financial hardships, when appropriate, and to provide confidentiality. It is more joy in giving than in receiving, the saying goes, and I agree. Still. I love my Birthday cards and presents:)

I will end with a personal story, a conversation I had years ago, over lunch, with a “friend.”

 I told her I was going for my Master’s in Psychology. She looked at me intensely, smiled, you know, that type of biting smile:) which is a smile of the mouth not the eyes?

“I took my daughter once to one of those” she said… “and she (the therapist) gave my daughter a list of  self-help books. So… now you will go to graduate school to be one of those?”

Do you think we had lunch again?

Rodica Mihalis, M.S. Counseling and Clinical Psychology