Counselor-Counselee Compatibility

In 2007, I was a survivor of the shooting at Virginia Tech.  In 2015, I began recovering.

For eight years, I suffered.  I struggled to accept my feelings

I needed someone to tell me that my feelings were acceptable.  I need someone to re-teach me how to deal with my feelings.  I needed someone to tell me to stop comparing my feelings to others’.   I needed someone to tell me that my feelings were a way of my body communicating with my mind.

But what good is someone telling me all these things that I needed to hear if I’m not listening?

To listen, I needed someone who I trusted, someone who I could relate to, and someone who could push me to try new things at the right time.

I don’t think we talk enough about how hard it is to find the right counselor.  Successful counseling requires counselor-counselee compatibility, which is highly dependent on personalities.  Finding a counselor is not like finding other doctors.  For example, when you need to find a dentist for a cavity filling, any licensed dentists should be able to fill your cavity successfully.  However, not all counselors will be able to successfully help you with your mental health condition, and that’s okay.  It’s not your fault, and it’s not their fault.   Finding a counselor is more like finding a best friend.  You need to find someone that you are comfortable sharing your feelings and stories that you may have never shared with anyone else ever before.  You’ll need to find someone you are comfortable being vulnerable with.

As if finding a counselor isn’t difficult enough already, what makes it even more difficult is that most of us seeking counseling are struggling with depression, a lack of self-confidence, and a lack of self-love.  When the counseling isn’t working, we think we are helpless and the problem is us.  Don’t be discouraged if a counselor doesn’t work out.  It took me three counselors until I found one that worked for me, and eight years to realize that I wasn’t the problem.

Admitting that you have a mental illness is hard.  Unfortunately, finding a counselor is hard too.  Accept that finding a counselor may not be a one-and-done.  Don’t settle for counseling that isn’t helping you.  A counselor is out there waiting to help you.  Just keep looking. Your mental health is so worth it!

Dear Virginia Tech