I Don’t Need Counseling!

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Many people are hesitant to meet with a counselor because they don’t really know what counseling is.  We know going to counseling or being in therapy can seem scary or negative.  It may feel like something is wrong with you.  In truth, the opposite is true!  Reaching out for help can be one of the hardest, bravest, and most healing things you can do. A counselor isn’t going to shame you, judge you, or bully you into changing.  They are your support system; someone you have in your corner to help you process, understand yourself, and start healing.

If you’ve ever wondered if counseling is right for you, read on.  This description is meant to explain what counseling is and isn’t and to outline what clients can expect when meeting with a Safe Passage counselor.

Most counseling appointments are made through our 24-hour hotline.  Hotline staff will ask whether you would like domestic violence or sexual assault counseling.  If you need to talk about your situation with the hotline worker when you call, you can do that and they will listen, validate, and guide you in the right direction.  You will then be scheduled with the appropriate counselor for an intake appointment.  At this appointment, you will be greeted by your counselor in the lobby.  The counselor will introduce themselves and walk you to their office.  Once there, the counselor will allow you to share what brought you into counseling.  You are allowed to go at your own pace and the counselor will never pressure you to discuss or share anything you are uncomfortable with.  The counselors at Safe Passage are committed to being client-centered and trauma-informed which means that you, as the client, get to direct the course of counseling.  At some point during the first session you will be asked to complete some intake paperwork.  Again, you don’t have to share anything you are uncomfortable sharing.

It is up to you how long you stay in counseling and even if you want to return after the intake.  The initial process of seeking help can be overwhelming and Safe Passage staff recognize that.  If you don’t feel ready, we will still be here when you are.

All sessions with your counselor will be collaborative.  Your counselor recognizes that you are the expert on your own life and they are there to guide and support you on your journey.  After a few initial sessions you and your counselor will begin developing specific counseling goals.  As sessions continue, your counselor will help you to move forward on your goals.

Safe Passage staff do not ask clients “what is wrong with you?”  Our staff ask “what happened to you?”  We know you are here because you have experienced some trauma and that you are seeking help because you are struggling with the aftereffects of that trauma.  Our counselors are trained to help clients recover from the trauma they have experienced, whether the trauma occurred recently or in the past.  People of all ages can access counseling at Safe Passage.  If you have any questions about counseling services, the hotline staff can answer those questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 815-756-5228.

We know it can be difficult or scary to reach out for help, but when you are ready, know that we will be here!

Traditions

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Christmas morning always found my siblings, parents, and I cuddled up in front of the wood-burning stove in our kitchen.  My mom would bake Christmas cookies for breakfast, a sort of oatmeal-based treat that was really more cookie than breakfast.  We’d open stockings and enjoy the warmth of the fire. We’d enjoy those few moments of quiet before heading out to see our larger family and play hours of BINGO.

You may not have played BINGO as much as my family did, but I would bet that most of you shared a tradition that we all dreaded as kids…having to give a hug or kiss to family members we hadn’t seen all year.  So much of our culture is built around physical affection:  kisses to grandma, thank you hugs to Uncle Kipling, goodnight snuggles with cousins.  Those things can be wonderful or can be terrifying for children.  Make sure your children understand that they can say “NO” to unwanted touches, hugs or kisses.  They can give Auntie Mary a wave or high five instead of a hug.  They can say “no thank you” if Cousin Jessie likes to give sloppy kisses.

Childhood is when I learned what I loved about the holidays.  So much of what we know as adults is what we learned as children.  This year as you settle in to enjoy the holidays with family, think about the traditions you are building.

Are you building traditions of kindness and generosity?  Are you building traditions that encourage your family to get consent before hugging, kissing, or touching your children?  Are you building traditions that empower your children and yourself?

This holiday season, give your family the gift of consent.  It is a free gift that keeps on giving as they keep on growing.