SWA Philosophy

Encourage people to envision their future,
Empower them to achieve their potential, then together,
Create a strategy that fosters new growth and development.

Counseling (Therapy) for Improved Mental Health

Why Counseling - Benefits and Background

  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 30 million Americans need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control.                                                                                             
  • Seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that something in your life is out of balance.
  • The strain and stress of daily living can be overwhelming, but add a major life event such as a family illness, death, job loss, or divorce and life may feel debilitating, at times even hopeless.
  • Problems arise that cannot be solved by self-help books and website research. Counseling can help sort through these problems to navigate the difficult feelings and life's challenges.
  • Counseling can help a person take control of their life and respond to overwhelming situations with healthy coping skills.  It is not always possible, or healthy, to just "tough it out".  Problems cannot be "willed away".
  • Counseling can improve a person's problem-solving abilities, and increase one's self-awareness, and improve self-control. 
  • Through counseling a person can learn new ways of relating to people, and can deal with a person's difficulties building and maintaining relationships.

Is Counseling Right for Me

In counseling, a person can learn to successfully manage a specific diagnosis or a specific condition. Examples include:

  • Generalized anxiety, acute stress and chronic stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors
  • Surviving trauma and post-traumatic stress
  • Depression
  • Anger management
  • Healing from the effects of violence and abusive behaviors
  • Substance abuse /chemical dependency /alcoholism
  • Co-dependency
  • Bereavement, loss, and grief

But counseling is also used for less specific symptoms. Examples include:

  • A person will enter counseling because they are feeling generally "stuck" in their life.
  • A person may not understand why they feel so angry, or so sad, all the time.
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless to make any real changes.
  • Struggling to cope with a relationship
  • Struggling with career issues
  • Struggling with family life and/or parenting
  • Wanting to make changes in your life, but not even sure what kind of change or where to begin.
  • A vague sense that something is missing in your life.

Counseling is also used to further develop oneself and promoting personal growth.

  • Setting healthy goals
  • Increased awareness of one's feelings
  • Insight to one's behaviors
  • Making career changes

How Counseling Works

If you are entering counseling for the first time, you may be feeling a little anxious. It is normal to feel a little anxious or uncomfortable at first. It will take a few counseling sessions to get to know each other and begin establishing a trusting relationship with your therapist. After a session or two you will be feeling more comfortable.

The interaction between a therapist and client is a scheduled appointment for 45-50 minutes, typically on a weekly, or bi-monthly basis. Your first session with the therapist will be different from subsequent visits. The initial appointment is where you and your therapist get to know each other, and get an idea where to proceed in future sessions. At the first appointment, when you arrive, you will be asked for your financial documents such as an insurance card, and there will be some paperwork to fill out. Also during the first session, you will be asked about what brings you to counseling, and to describe any symptoms you may be experiencing. Remember, the therapist must gather information about you and what you are going through, to fully understand you and your situation. Also I encourage clients to ask any questions they may have about the counseling process. Ask for anything you don't understand, to be repeated and explained. The more you understand the counseling experience and how counseling works, the more comfortable you’ll be.

The subsequent sessions will be where the client can talk openly, and honestly, in a stable and safe environment about their experiences, feelings, and unique situation. The therapist-client relationship is the hallmark of the counseling process and the SWA standard is to use a professional, multi-disciplinary, and client-centered approach to counseling. This means that each and every client receives personalized, individualized attention, the utmost respect, nonjudgmental and focused listening, and most importantly, confidentially.

Confidentiality is a very crucial part of the therapist-client relationship, and it is what makes the unique counseling relationship effective. Confidentiality means that not one detail that a client provides, is divulged to anyone else without the client's written, explicit permission. SWA also comply with the national HIPPAA standards to protect the privacy of every client's personal health information.

Counseling can be short-term, a few sessions, or longer term, involving months or years. It is the SWA standard that the therapeutic treatment process progresses for each individual according to their personal comfort level, their needs, and their goals. Counseling is about equipping a person with life-long solutions and problem solving skills. It is about healing, not putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms. SWA is committed to helping all clients pursue an onward progression toward a productive and satisfying life.

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Minnesota Mental Health Community Foundation

Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health & Therapy

American Counseling Assocation