Advertising
Advertising

Why We Need Professional Counseling

Why We Need Professional Counseling

The world we live in today comes with a lot of pressure from all aspects of life; it could be work, family, health, the environment, politics and even problems from around the world. Whether you admit it or not, we often succumb to these pressures and wish that there was someone who could shoulder the burden for us. The best among us have to qualms sharing their problems with friends, family or even strangers. Unfortunately, there is another category of people who would rather take their problems to the grave than give an inkling to their suffering. This article may help change your mind.

Professional counseling

Even the boldest people in the society are often quick to dismiss the notion of seeking professional help to deal with certain matters. The idea of sitting in a counselor’s office going through the chapters of your life seems like a strange notion, and some people will even call it cowardly. They prefer to drown out their sorrows in a bottle of their favorite liquor and dance the night away hoping that their worries will find another victim. Well, victim or not, we all need to let off steam at some point in our lives. While some of us need it need more than others, there is no victim in the counseling room, only a winner determined to stay sane. So, what type of problems can counselors solve?

Advertising

Common problems solved by counselors

Professional counselors do more than getting into your business; they listen with the intent to unearth the source of your issues in a bid to help YOU, deal with your issues better. After a round of counseling sessions, the patient signs off equipped with tools to cope with the particular issues. The most common problems that call for professional help are as follows:

1. Drug addiction and alcoholism

Advertising

Many additions that plague today’s society ranging from television, the internet, gambling, food additions, etc. However, alcohol and drug dependency is top of the list of addictions that many citizens grapple with from day to day. Alcohol addiction can stem from childhood problems, the pressures at work, bad relationships with family or spouses, significant losses, etc. Whatever the source of the dependency, alcohol and drug addictions have ruined lives and shattered families for generations. If you need a chemical substance to cope with everyday responsibilities, seek professional help before you begin a downward spiral that leads to bigger problems such as failing health and even death. You may ask, why do people get addicted or hooked? The lucky among us can enjoy a sundowner every day or drinking binges while on vacation and still, resume our normal lives. Count your lucky stars because not everyone can manage this. A therapist with experience in this field will be the first to admit that treating alcoholism is an arduous journey that cannot guarantee results. It is common for patients to get ‘cured’ only to fall right back after a couple of months or years. The rule to surviving alcoholism is taking it one day at a time and staying away from triggers.

2. Stress and depression

Advertising

Mental disorders are a common problem in society, but we tend to downplay them to avoid opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. We face everyday stressors such as work, family, business, endless bills, etc. While a little bit of stress is essential to keep up on our toes, too much of it can easily progress to something bigger. Mental health is a vital part of our general well-being, and it is for this reason why professional counselors will recommend distressing now and then. Take a few moments from your day to appreciate yourself and the amazing things you are trying to accomplish. This little break will not only relieve stress but also boost your enthusiasm to tackle tasks that lay ahead. Most people often interchange the term stress and depression. While the two may stem from similar issues, they are completely different animals. Depression is much more advanced and requires professional counseling to manage. Find the best therapist for you and stick to the program.

3. Relationship problems

This type of problem is all so familiar to many of us who have gone through bad relationships with lovers, siblings, parents, coworkers, neighbors and even the mailman! As professional counselors will tell you, our tendency to fall into a series of poor relationships can stem from our childhood. Your therapist will ask “What happened to you as a child?” If you are the recipient of this question, you may be tempted to think that the doctor is fishing for material to fill up the hour for billing purposes. Who can blame you? Your counselor is right to ask this question because our childhood has a lot do to do with how we relate to people in our adult life.

Advertising

Conclusion

If you have suffered a trauma and cannot stop pondering about it, make an appointment with a therapist at the earliest opportunity. Seek a therapist outside your home area if this makes you more comfortable.

More by this author

Vikas Agrawal

Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

How to Create an Infographic Resume That Will Impress Your Future Employer How I Get Things Done with Only Half of the Time Others Need Writing a Great Value Statement Can Bring In Tons of Money for Your Business All-Natural Tips for Fighting Insomnia and Sleeping Better 6 Signs that Your Family is Ready for a Pet

Trending in Brain

1 What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good) 2 What is Cognitive Dissonance (And How to Dodge it) 3 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements) 4 How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19 5 7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on June 30, 2020

What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

Many conversations are being held nowadays regarding unconscious bias, but what does it really mean and how can it affect your life and the people around you? With many types of biases, it can get quite confusing. In this article, we’ll touch on cognitive bias, and then zero in on unconscious bias. Both types of biases have an immediate impact on your life because they relate to how you and others think about yourself and other people.

If you want to protect your relationships and make good decisions about other people, you need to know what these biases mean[1]. Once we have clarity about that, we can explore in more depth unconscious bias and how to address it[2].

Cognitive Bias

Let’s start with cognitive bias[3], a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals[4].

These mental blind spots impact all areas of our life, from health to relationships and even shopping, as a study recently revealed[5]. In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want.

Cognitive biases have to do with judgment, not mood. Ironically, cognitive biases — such as the optimism bias and overconfidence effect — more often lead to positive moods. Of course, the consequence of falling into cognitive biases, once discovered, usually leaves us in a bad mood due to the disastrous results of these dangerous judgment errors.

Advertising

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is different from cognitive bias. Also known as implicit bias, it refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on[6]. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example, most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

Unconscious Bias and Discriminatory Behavior

Organizations often bring me in as a speaker on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior. When I share in speeches that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people, some participants (usually white) occasionally try to defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to the internal characteristics of black people (implying that it is deserved), and not to the external context of police behavior.

In reality – as I point out in my response to these folks – research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one[7].

At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black one. In other words, statistics show that the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to the prejudice of the police officers, at least to a large extent[8].

Advertising

However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it indeed is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse[9].

After becoming aware that unconscious bias does exist, the next step would be learning how to recognize it in order to reduce it. I’ve outlined three crucial points to keep in mind below while further exploring the unconscious prejudice discussed above.

How to Reduce Unconscious Bias

Remember these three important points if you want to work on reducing your unconscious bias.

1. Unconscious Bias is a Systemic Issue

When we understand that unconscious bias is ultimately a systemic issue, we understand that internal cultures need to be checked and addressed first.

Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people, perceiving them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many — not all — black police officers helps show that such prejudices come – at least to a significant extent – from internal cultures within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes present before someone joins a police department.

Advertising

Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers.

In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that unconscious bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed[10].

2. There Is No Shame in Unconscious Bias

Another crucial thing that needs to be highlighted is that there is no shame or blame in unconscious bias as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences, helping them hear and accept the issue.

Unconscious bias is prevalent and often doesn’t match our conscious values. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs and prejudices stemming from our tendency to categorize people into social groups. This developed naturally as a way for our ancestors to quickly size up a possible threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate well in modern life.

3. It Takes a Sustained Effort to Prevent and Protect Against Unconscious Bias

After being presented with additional statistics and discussion of unconscious bias, the issue is generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for their gut reactions to believe that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it; in turn, they are highly reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts and energy on protecting black Americans from police violence due to the structural challenges facing these groups.

Advertising

The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions, so they reject this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research[11].

Conclusion

The examples and points raised illustrate broader patterns you need to follow to recognize unconscious bias. Only by doing so will you be able to determine if, and what type of, intervention is needed to address it.

Unfortunately, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices when we simply follow our intuitions. Unconscious biases are systemic and need to be addressed in order to make the best decisions[12].

We need to learn about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias. Then, you need to develop the right mental habits to help you make the best choices[13]. A one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias, so get started now.

More Tips on Overcoming Unconscious Bias

Featured photo credit: M.T ElGassier via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next