Episodes of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, chronic stress, mood disorder, and a wide range of other emotional, behavioral and cognitive crisis are what we have to experience as we gradually climb up the developmental steps of life. We get exposed to a series of comfort and discomfort sequentially or simultaneously as we begin and end our day. We get carried away by events and experiences that make us react in so many different ways, making it sometimes difficult for other observant to articulate. There are stressors within us and beyond us, there are problems that range from being manageable to ‘out of control’, there are thoughts and emotions that are hard to accept, comprehend and face. Every day, every single individual goes through a roller coaster ride of experiences that pull and push them in so many different ways, exposing them to so many realities and alternatives that the probability of each experience making them prone to vulnerability adds up every passing moment. So, the question that we should all ponder upon is the question of whether or not the weight of our problem should determine if we want to seek counseling.
Counseling comes from the Latin word ‘consilium’ meaning consultation or advice. The internet defines it as giving advice to ‘someone’, giving professional help and advice to ‘someone’ to resolve personal or psychological problems and recommend a course of action to ‘someone’. Now, this someone can be anyone, it can be me, you, someone you know and someone you do not. It can be anyone anywhere. The core essence of counseling lies in the fact that it creates an open space for anyone and everyone to channel and communicate what they truly think, feel and experience. It is a space to vent, explode and let every tiny or huge thing that is bothering you to let it all out. It is also a space for exploring yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, what you are capable of and not. You become aware of the emotions that you feel and the thoughts that you construct, you know better what is in your surrounding from animate to inanimate beings, you learn to identify that there exists multiple other angles to view things and base opinions. You learn to familiarize yourself with the greater course or tide in which our life moves. Hence, counseling is not exclusively limited to only those who are diagnosed and mentally unstable. Counseling is not only limited to sharing one’s problems and pain, but it also opens its doors for sharing one’s cause of euphoria and positive experiences.
Hence, maybe it is now the time to change how we view counseling and the people who voluntarily seek it. Counseling and those who seek should be refrained from being labeled as only for the weak. We are all humans who have the capacity to thrive but who also have the capacity to fail. We can be capable and incapable at the same time. A person who is laughing on the outside may not so inside; a person might be radiating confidence but maybe deeply cut by anxiety. So, we cannot at all times guarantee the well being of an individual just by how he externalizes himself to others. And to be fairly honest, this is what we do. We assume that a person has no problem or is not going through any problem because no signs are put out there for others to evaluate. We need to stop assuming and start accepting that if a person decides to go for counseling then he has his own reasons, no matter the quality of his reasons be positive or negative.
We need to acknowledge the premise in which the idea of counseling is built upon. It can be a source of comfort and peace, it can be a strong factor of building confidence and motivation, it can be the only place where you can be yourself and find your sense of direction, and it can be the only place for holding conversations. It can mean so many things to someone. It may not be you but it is to someone. So let us encourage when someone we know wants to try going for counseling. Let us stop questioning the weight and depth of somebody’s problem. Because somebody else’s problem is not meant for our spectatorship or judgment. Somebody else’s problem is equally important as our own.
The author, Swasti Karmacharya, is the student counselor at United Academy and United College.