Intern Insights: Michelle

MichelleTo some individuals, “therapy,” “counseling” and “mental health” are very intimidating words that are associated with negative biases. This is a common misconception, especially because Hollywood and the media may be the only exposure people have to them. But, therapy and counseling can be used by all people who want to learn more about themselves or improve their quality of life. One’s mental health can influence how we act in social situations, deal with stress, confront challenges and react emotionally and psychologically.

During the first session with a therapist or counselor, you can expect an overview of ethical standards that he or she is legally obliged to share along with confidentiality agreements. The counselor may also do a series of assessments to get to know you better.

From this first session, you can get a feel for the counselor and the chemistry you have together. This is an important part of building a healthy relationship with your therapist. After this session, you can talk about what brings you into counseling and goals you would like to work on.

The counselor’s job is to help empower you to achieve your goals. This means clients have to be willing to work toward these goals with the help of the counselor. How much work? Ideally, it is 50/50 between the client and the counselor. Depending on the situation, this can take eight weeks, 12 months, years, decades and can even be a life-long process.

Participating in counseling can be hard for people in the beginning as defense mechanisms, drugs and alcohol are all ways we knowingly or unknowingly avoid our own issues. Admitting that you need help and seeing a therapist is a brave and ambitious act. However, many times, therapy is used as a last resort in desperate situations.

As a counselor, it is my goal to improve the mental health condition here in Hawaii. I truly believe that mental health, similar to a muscle in your body, needs continuous work and care to thrive. Through therapy, and sometimes medication, maintaining your mental health can provide healthy building blocks for many aspects of life, especially during difficult times. My own experience of going through hard times and seeking counseling has driven me to pursue this field to help others.

If you would like to know more about therapy, mental health or have any additional questions, contact Helping Hands Hawaii at (808) 536-7234. I look forward to meeting you!

Michelle is a practicum student from Northwestern University who has been at Helping Hands Hawaii since June 2017. She is completing her requirements to become a mental health counselor, which includes many hours of fieldwork.

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