Archive for Chicago Counseling


10 Tips for Getting the Most out of Counseling

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If you’re spending precious time and money on counseling, you probably want to get as much out of it as possible.  These ten tips can help you get the most out of counseling services.

1. Be open and honest:

Be open and honest with your counselor.  Holding back information and avoiding painful issues would make it very difficult for your counselor to help you.  It may be scary at first to open up about certain things, or to admit to certain problems, but it will help you in the long run.  The fact that your counselor is not involved in other areas of your life, and that your communication is confidential by law, should make it easier to open up.

2. Take an active part in the therapy process:

It is important that you see therapy as a collaborative process, where you and your counselor work together.  The work that you do in therapy is an internal type of work that happens inside you… somewhere that only you have access (your thoughts, feelings, decisions, etc.).  Your counselor can help you understand what is going on inside you, why you feel what you feel, why you do what you do, and what your options are for coping and for improving things.  They can also offer emotional support while you work through these things.  But you are the only person who can actually decide how you will use those insights, principles, or ideas.  You are in charge of your life, and ultimately you need to make your own decisions and/or changes.  In other words, don’t just passively wait for the counselor to “fix” you.  One way to take an active part in the therapy process is to think ahead about what you’d like to focus on in your next session, or what you’d like to get out of it, and to tell your counselor.

3. Do your homework:

If you and your counselor set a specific goal for the week, or agree to have you do a specific exercise or worksheet, then do your best to follow through.  If you don’t, then make sure to discuss what got in the way.  With most skills, practice is essential.  For example, relaxation skills take many repetitions before they become effective.  Recognizing and challenging negative thinking takes a lot of practice, practice, practice.  Also, changing communication patterns doesn’t happen overnight.  Homework helps you apply what you discussed to your day-to-day life.

4. Work on yourself between sessions, even if it’s not assigned for homework:

Much of therapy work should happen between sessions.  Look for opportunities to implement new ideas, suggestions, techniques, and options.  Then you can use your sessions to process your efforts.  Also, when counseling helps you to reach insights about your life and where certain dynamics come from, watch for how those dynamics continue to play out in your day to day life.  Then you can use your sessions to process what you observed.  Don’t wait for your therapist to tell you what to do, take the initiative.

5. Don’t get too focused on the negative:

Working on your problems can cause you to focus more than usual on the difficulties in life… the things that are not going well.  Therefore it is important to intentionally remind yourself of the things that you do have, the things that you are doing well with, and the things that are going right.  You have strengths… don’t overlook those.  Recognizing your strengths can give you something to build on.

6. Stay brave:

Keep in mind that therapy is not just an easy “feel good” process.  It takes courage.  Sometimes you may experience painful emotions, remember painful memories, face painful truths, or even reconsider some of your previously held beliefs.  You might also choose to confront problematic circumstances or relationship dynamics while in therapy, which could be difficult (despite often being necessary).  Sometimes things get harder before they get easier.  Knowing that this is a normal part of therapy can help you to persevere through the rough parts.  Remember to let your therapist know if you ever feel overwhelmed by the work you are doing in counseling.  Find the right pace for yourself.

7. Give your counselor feedback:

Talk about it if you disagree with your counselor.  Let them know if you feel that therapy is not addressing what’s most important to you, or if you want to change anything about the counseling itself.  Sometimes people are hesitant to give their counselor feedback, because the counselor is “the expert.”  A counselor may indeed be an expert on psychology and coping, however, you are the expert on yourself.  If you don’t share your concerns or preferences about counseling, then the counselor won’t be aware of them.  Even if your counselor disagrees with you, it is important that you communicate about such things openly.

8. Ask for a referral if necessary:

If you feel that your current counselor is not a good match for you, or if you just don’t think you’re getting what you need, then it’s okay to ask for a referral.  We are trained professionals, we know we’re not going to click with everybody, and we should know not to take this personally.  Don’t stay in a counseling relationship that is not working for you just because you don’t want to hurt your counselor’s feelings.  What’s most important is that you get the help you need.  Don’t let a negative experience with counseling stop you from seeking help elsewhere.  Different counselors will approach things a little (sometimes very) differently.

9. Don’t get overly dependent:

It is important that you not become overly dependent on your therapist or on the counseling process.  For example, although sometimes you may want to discuss something in therapy before making a decision, don’t always put off dealing with things until your session.  Practice handling situations independently.  The idea is to work toward a time when you don’t need a counselor anymore.  Let your counselor know when you think you’re approaching that time, so that you can prepare together for you to cope once counseling ends.

10. Supplement Your Therapy:

In addition to the above, you can also supplement your therapy in a variety of ways.  Psychotropic medications can be particularly helpful, especially if you are so overwhelmed with symptoms that you can’t effectively implement ideas talked about in counseling.  Self-help reading is a great source of guidance.  Journaling can be a great way to reflect on things by yourself, or to release pent up emotions.  Logging about your efforts has been shown to improve the likelihood that you will succeed at making changes.  Other supportive relationships are important to maintain and develop.  And developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle can help you to improve emotional stability (e.g.: balanced nutrition, exercise, pacing, sleep, medical care, and avoidance of substance abuse).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : About Counseling
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Feeling Blue? Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Getting Those Chicago Winter Blues?

The Southtown Star interviewed me about Seasonal Affective Disorder. The article was published this last weekend.

There was however one paragraph in which Ms. Sharwarko paraphrased me that did not make sense.  I left a comment at the end of their article to clarify what I had actually meant.

Also, here are a couple links to resources for light therapy.  One is from Philips and the other from Northern Light Technologies.

Feeling Blue?  You’re Not Alone

January is a tough month for some people to tackle.

As they pack away holiday stress, the joy of the season fades too. Holiday shopping bills stack up. And people face the start of a new year, a time when they examine their lives, for better or worse.

All this, combined with the physical effects of a season without significant sun, creates a framework for people to find themselves depressed.

“There is a common experience of having finished the business and running around that the holidays require,” said Anda Jines, a licensed clinical professional counselor for Hoover and Associates in Tinley Park. “It can be an adjustment to switch gears back to the daily grind.” (Click to continue reading about Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

Categories : Depression
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