Happy August all! I have been feeling a bubbling of conflicting thoughts when thinking about what I wanted to share with you this month and I’ll tell you why. This month’s theme celebrates women’s’ rights, which madly enough seem to be slowly being stripped away from us piece by piece. Bearing in mind that I believe that my work in counseling is inherently political, it’s hard not to consider that some of the rights that generations of women have worked so hard to earn this celebration, are on the brink of extinction. 

This article will not be about that however, but rather about advocating for some of the rights that still do exist specifically within seeking help for mental wellness. 

So, if you are considering seeking out mental health services, especially during these uncertain times, here are some tips for advocating for yourself from a mental health professional. 

*Please note that specific client/patient rights may vary from state to state. If you’re curious about what your rights may be in counseling, check out your local Health and Human Services website*

Your language and perspective matter: 

If you are speaking with your counselor about an experience, they may try to relay back what you said or summarize to see if they understood you. Sometimes what they relay back might not match what you had intended to communicate or maybe they used language that just doesn’t fit for you. If that happens, you are more than allowed to tell them they missed what you said. 

You are allowed to say that different language fits better or clarify what you meant. This can avoid you heading in a direction with your therapist in which you did not want to go.

Also, telling your counselor that something doesn’t fit for you, can balance the power in the room and can help refocus the session back to you. 

Telling someone in power no when you need to, can help you say yes to yourself and what you need in the space. This practice can also have wonderful ripple effects in your life in moments where speaking up might be difficult.

Focus on strengths:

Many counseling practices include a strength-based approach, which is exactly what it sounds like. In a strength-based setting, the therapist will work with you to focus on what you do right and what your strengths are, rather than things that might be inherently wrong with you. 

So, if you find that your counselor is not focusing on what you do right and you want that, you are more than allowed to ask for that. Also, if the therapist shares back with you that they do not really do that, and you want a strength-based approach, then jump to the next tip. :) 

Find someone new:

Whether it is halfway through the first session, or five years in, you are ALWAYS allowed to find a new mental health practitioner. You can share with your counselor that the therapeutic relationship is not working for you, and you can find someone new. 

Mental health workers are there for you and it is their job to aid in what you need. Much like with any relationship, if it doesn’t mesh well, then you can seek out someone with whom you fit better. 

No matter where you are in your mental health journey, know that this will always be true:

Your story is important and deserves a space worthy of hearing and processing it. 

About the author

Becca is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Associate who gives us her expert perspective on Emotional Health and Wellness. She holds an M.A in Education with an emphasis in Counseling as well as an M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from San Diego State University.  Each month she writes about mental health and how to feel your best!
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