Mental health therapy is a process, which serves as a way to uncover and understand behaviors, establish communication, reduce stress, and resolve conflicts. Therapy is usually sought out when an individual or family has concerns about issues that are causing disruptions in daily life.
Unfortunately, people usually wait to start therapy until problems and emotions have risen to an unmanageable level. At this point, people may have been going through extraordinary difficulties in a relationship or with their mental health. However starting therapy is a positive, first step, towards regaining control and healing.
What Happens in Mental Health Counseling?
Counseling is a safe and non-judgmental place for people to release pain and express concerns and difficulties. While talking to a total stranger about the most private and painful parts of life may seem impossible, it is not something to fear. The nature of the therapist-client relationship depends on their unbiased and new perspective. Therapists help by providing fresh ears and eyes.
Mental health counseling is the beginning of a compassionate, working relationship with a trained professional. In the initial session, your therapist will have you fill out some information prior to entering their office. They will continue to collect information. You will also address the main question of what brought you to therapy in the first place. A further discussion of goals and hopes for therapy will also take place. Prior to this meeting, it is a good idea to think about your goals, what you hope to work on, and what your stressors are that bring you in for treatment .
At the end of the session, the counselor may ask how you felt about your time, if you want to move forward with a second session, and if so, what you would like to continue to address. He or she may also ask if there were any parts of session that made you feel uncomfortable. Discomfort may be a sign that you and your therapist may need to revisit a certain topic later on in your work together.
If for some reason, you do not feel that your therapist is the right fit for you, he or she can give you a referral. Therapists work to help others improve their mental health and wellness. They will help you meet your goals in whatever way they can, even if that means referring you to someone else.
Obsessive Behaviors and Mental Health Disorders
Many people seek out therapy for a variety of reasons. Marriage conflicts, family problems, and transitions within family are some well-known reasons people turn to therapists. However, individual behavioral issues may also be a reason.
Slow and persistent developments of obsessive behavior such as repeating tasks or being unable to stop may be a sign of a growing or present disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has specific signifiers that can disrupt daily lives. A person who may develop OCD may start to show repetitive behaviors connected to fears. While the individual may not know it at the time, their behaviors help them temporarily calm certain anxieties that they may not be fully aware of.
Certain behaviors like excessive cleaning or uncontrollable repetitive activities (like checking to see if a door is locked) are a couple of aspects of OCD. These behaviors can impair someone’s ability to function outside the home. OCD behaviors can become completely consuming. People are unable to do much else but their rituals.
While the individual may realize that their behaviors are causing a disruption, they may choose to hide their struggles for fear of being ridiculed or even denying the disorder’s impact on their life. They may think that they can stop these compulsions on their own. This often magnifies a person’s anxiety and may cause behaviors to increase, leading to a vicious cycle.
Behaviors of OCD may include: excessive cleanliness, counting, repeated checks, repeated steps, and demanding order. These behaviors are problematic because of the large amounts of time it consumes and the paranoia it produces. When behaviors affect lives in this way, it is beneficial to speak with a mental health professional. He or she can help you come to a place where you can openly discuss these behavioral issues, understand root causes, and work on ways to find healing. The goal of therapy is to be able to practice what you’ve learned in treatment and use it outside in the world.
Ongoing Behaviors and Mental Health
Some people may have had certain behaviors for extensive periods of time, but may have found ways to work around them on their own. For instance, social anxiety disorder (SAD) sufferers are often extremely avoidant. While anxiety symptoms may have been painful (but manageable) in adolescence, it may become severe in adulthood. This disorder may grow to a point where a person’s anxiety and paralyzing panic may block their ability to join social gatherings, to complete simple tasks, or to leave the house (in severe cases).
For sufferers who develop severe behaviors of social anxiety disorder, this can be problematic. It may hinder their ability to attend vital activities, like school or work. SAD is characterized by behaviors driven by fear of others, interaction, or judgment.
Consequently, people with this disorder may also suffer from physical symptoms like chest pain, nausea, stomach pains, constricted breathing, sweating, or dizziness if forced into social situations that have triggering effects. However, when an individual takes the first step and seeks professional help, they have realized that their disorder cannot be managed alone.
Behaviors May Be a Sign of Larger Issues
Behaviors are often a sign of larger issues at hand, such as a fully developed disorder and unresolved issues. Many behavioral disorders develop from a complex web of genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors.
OCD and SAD are examples of how obsessive or growing behaviors are often signs that a condition is present and needs to be addressed. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of mental health professionals who are trained to work with all types of disorders. With a commitment to therapeutic work, no one has to suffer alone. Mental health therapists are waiting to help, when you’re ready to take that first step.