Therapy is something I truly believe in which is why I studied to become a counselor. In addition seeking out a counselor and life coach was a large part of my healing process . Unfortunately in the African American community therapy is often looked down upon. You often hear things like you must be crazy if you seek out a counselor. Well I’m here to let you know that is not true. The same for seeking a life coach or a mentor. These are all people who can help us be the best versions of ourselves if we choose them wisely.
How Do They Help?
There are many reasons outside of “being crazy” that therapy/life coaching/mentoring can help. For example -adjusting to a new job, adjusting to a move to a new state or country, dealing with the lost of a loved one or my ultimate favorite setting life goals and having someone hold you accountable to reach them. However counselors, coaches and mentors are people too and have issues of their own. This is why they often encourage us to seek counseling while we are going through grad school. We are told ethically our issues should never interfere with the clients. However I will say this has happened to me multiple times by different therapist. God had a funny way of allowing it to happen to a person who he knew would become a therapist and talk to others about what to precaution themselves against when it comes to selecting helping professionals. I’ve collected some best practices for others who decide they want to pursue a helping professional and also some red flags of when it might be best to terminate the relationship.
Here are a couple tips to consider when thinking of firing your therapist, life coach or mentor
1. If something doesn’t feel right it likely isn’t
God gave us instincts. You should trust in your ability to discern when someone doesn’t have the right agenda for you or when their just not the right fit. Never let their credentials fool you into believing they know best. Always trust your gut first.
2. Guard your heart and mind
When you’re in counseling or seeking help you’re vulnerable. You share things you normally wouldn’t and your guard is down. Unfortunately not everyone is careful with that vulnerability. Be careful not to take everything your counselor, life coach or mentor says as the truth. Give yourself some room to consider it- but do not necessarily take it on. Guard your heart and mind.
3. Don’t be afraid to bounce your experience off someone you can trust
Like I mentioned if something doesn’t feel right maybe its not. You can bounce your experience with the helping profession off another person who knows you well. Ask them does this seem like a helping professional I can trust? If this were your Therapist-would you think they had your best interest? Another opinion never hurts.
3. The therapist thinks they know more about who you are than you do
This is an absolute no. Some of us do have additional insight into a situation. However that’s more rare then common. Never let a helping professional tell you definitely “this is who you are.” If you’re self aware -you know yourself. Your sessions with them should not feel like lectures but rather someone there to facilitate a journey with you.
4. They promise you resources only to keep putting it off for the “next time” you come
I had a therapist do this to me and I should have reported her. She had certain resources she promised to give and kept delaying them until my next session. At some point I was convinced it was just a way to get me to keep paying. Very unethical and definitely not ok.
5. Tells you something is a problem just because it doesn’t align with their belief system or goals
Make sure you know what you believe when you come to counseling. This person does not know you and is operating from a limited view of your life. No one can tell you the motivation you have for the things you want in your life. Only you know the true reason behind your desire for your life goals.
In closing there are many great counselors mentors and life coaches out there. But you have to find ones who have been through their own healing process can be objective and sensitive to your needs. I’m confident that if you listen to your heart you’ll find the right soul meant to help you. Until then. Happy hunting and…