The decision to seek assistance with a personal challenge can be a tough one. The whole idea of talking to an outsider, a “stranger,” about personal problems can be a little scary. In order to make that decision easier, it may be helpful to understand what counseling at BSS is and what it does.
What counseling is
Counseling is a confidential, collaborative process that involves the development of a professional relationship between a client and licensed clinical psychologist. Counseling focuses on the client’s personal challenges and behaviors as well as their personal development and growth. It is an opportunity to talk to a psychologist who is highly skilled in the science of human behavior and brain function, and understands law enforcement operations and culture.
The overall goal of counseling is to help the client sort out problem areas in his or her life and develop effective solutions and strategies to achieve success. This is done by providing a safe environment in which to explore and express thoughts and feelings about problem areas and develop better methods of addressing these issues. Counseling helps you clarify issues, gain insight into them and enhance how effectively you manage life’s challenges.
Most of us at some time in our life experience interpersonal difficulties that interfere with our success or sense of well-being. Professional counseling can help not only when these challenges feel overwhelming, but when you need an objective, professional opinion about these matters. These difficulties can include such matters as:
- Marital or family problems
- Career decisions or professional goals
- Conflicts with supervisors or coworkers
- Binge behavior and addictions
- Low self-confidence
- Feeling significantly stressed
- Loss and grief
- Loneliness and emptiness
- Sleep disturbances
- Thoughts about death or suicide
The Psychologist’s role
Psychologists spend many years beyond college studying human behavior, cognitive development, brain function and therapy. The psychologists’ primary role is to bring their expertise to bear and help you develop a better understanding of what drives challenges you face in life, and how to successfully overcome them. The psychologist provides a safe environment in which you can share personal matters and feel heard and understood. A psychologist does not force a client to talk about anything the client is not ready to discuss. Rather they encourage and support the client in addressing various issues and feelings that may be hard to acknowledge and talk about.
The Client’s role
Understanding that there are no “magic cures” and that the therapist cannot “fix” the problem for you, counseling typically requires hard work and patience. At times you may feel worse before you feel better. Do not get discouraged and give up. At times you may start feeling better and think everything is fine and stop too soon. Always bring up any of these feelings to your therapist and discuss them together. Talk with your therapist if you feel that you are “stuck.” Be prepared to challenge yourself to grow and look at things in a different way than you may be used to. The answers, most often, are inside of you—the therapist helps you look inside to find them in a way that feels safe and supportive. Be committed to the process since it is for you. Be open to suggestions of thinking or acting differently than you are used to. You and your psychologist are a team with the same goal, your positive mental health.
A “typical” session
Upon arriving at BSS you will be greeted by our caring administrative staff. If this is your initial visit, you will be asked to complete a contact information form and review a couple documents regarding your treatment and rights (“Consent for Treatment,” “Limits of Confidentiality”). Your psychologist will review these documents with you to insure you are completely informed about these issues. Each psychologist has a private office and, yes, they do have couches, but you can sit in a chair if you wish. Your initial meeting with the psychologist will be your time to share what issues bring you to counseling. A typical session is about an hour long and usually occurs one time per week. The duration of treatment varies depending upon the problem being addressed but generally runs from two to six sessions. BSS psychologists do not prescribe medication but in some cases, do refer you to a psychiatrist or to your personal physician as indicated. One of the many advantages to seeking counseling at BSS is that, unlike the vast majority of mental health experts, BSS psychologists are experienced with law enforcement issues and Department procedures.