Individual counseling (sometimes called psychotherapy, talk therapy, or treatment) is a process through which clients work one-on-one with a trained mental health clinician in a safe, caring, and confidential environment. Individual counseling is helpful for a variety of reasons, such as increasing an individual's self-awareness, encouraging self-exploration, identifying boundaries, enhancing communication skills and improving the use of healthy coping skills.
What are the Benefits of Individual Counseling?
Individual counseling is helpful for a variety of reasons, such as increasing an individual’s self-awareness, encouraging self-exploration, identifying boundaries, enhancing communication skills and improving the use of healthy coping skills. The benefits will lead to a shift in behavior for the individual, which often decrease symptoms of mental health issues.
Throughout the counseling process, the individual and counselor engage in discussion about the issues to be addressed. Counselors often encourage individuals to reflect and delve into their experiences.
For example, mindfulness is a widely used tool used in counseling to increase an individual’s ability to be present in the here and now. The mindfulness activities often urge individuals to consider the thoughts, feelings, and sensations occurring in the session. This type of practice leads to self-awareness of the human experience. What is going on inside me–right now?
In addition, counselors tend to provide insight into the impact of an individual’s behavior on the desired outcome. In particular, Cognitive Behavioral therapists, will point out the mismatch between what the individual thinks will happen and what actually happens.
An individual who struggles with a specific phobia of spiders for example, would likely avoid situations where a spider might be present with the intent to decrease the stress. However, the avoidance of the spider simply allows the fear to strengthen. Counselors are crucial outside observers who provide individuals with a perspective they are not able to see on their own.
Counseling also allows individuals to embark on a journey of self-exploration. Who am I? What are my beliefs and values? What makes life meaningful for me? Who are the individuals in my support network? These are all questions counseling puts at the forefront of an individual’s mind.
Many individuals seek counseling for issues related to their relationships and social skills. More often than not, issues arise from a lack of boundaries. Boundaries are the physical and emotional limitations that help to differentiate the desires, needs, and preferences of one person from another. The most important aspect of establishing boundaries is recognizing where you need them.
In order to communicate boundaries, an individual must first seek to identify and to become aware of them. The role of a counselor is to provide insight into the needs and preferences of an individual. How much time do you need away from your partner each week? How can you prioritize tasks to set boundaries for yourself? Each of these questions can be explored in counseling.
In addition to identifying boundaries, counseling tends to improve communication skills, such as those pertaining to assertiveness, emotional intelligence, empathy, active listening, confidence, and respect.
Assertiveness, which involves standing up for one’s own needs while also respecting the needs of others, is crucial to
Healthy Coping Skills
Most importantly, individuals gain valuable coping skills throughout the counseling process. For example, counselors who utilize either Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) focus on mindfulness techniques during the session, which are effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety; this knowledge can be taken from the counseling session into the real world.
In addition, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages individuals to use coping skills related to the individual’s thought patterns. For instance, CBT increases an individual’s ability to identify triggers and unhealthy thoughts related to anxiety and depression. Counselors who practice CBT also inform the individuals about ways to reframe thoughts and consider alternative perspectives.