By Ashley Pajor, MA, LMHC
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to draw attention to our mental wellness. As a counselor, I help clients who are struggling with mental health, substance use, and everything in between. My primary goal is to ensure that clients who walk out of my office feel better than they did when they first entered. When that happens, I know that I have done my job.
Many people believe that there has to be something “wrong” with them in order to seek counseling. That’s not the case. Counseling is a process that involves working with a counselor or therapist to help resolve personal, social, or psychological challenges. In fact, counseling can benefit everyone, no matter what is happening in their life at a particular time.
There is also no right or wrong reason to seek out counseling. In a word, counseling means help. I help clients develop new ways of living by inviting them to look more closely at themselves in an effort to explore new possibilities and make positive changes. I always tell clients, “You can’t go backwards. You will never be the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, even a day ago. Things happen that change us every day.” I view counseling as a way to discover who you are now, and who you want to be as you move forward in your desire to become the person you were meant to be.
I have come to learn that people who seek counseling while processing grief, going through a divorce, or navigating the challenges of a global pandemic, can easily feel lost — forgetting who they are or where they are going. Counseling offers hope, encouragement, and the motivation to get back on track toward pursuing a healthier and more fulfilling future.
One of the most significant aspects of counseling involves helping my clients learn new and effective ways of coping with and managing life’s stressors. This includes help with anxiety, motivation, concentration skills, setting healthy boundaries with others, and managing emotions. I also remind people that emotions are everywhere and serve an important purpose in our lives. Indeed, we are always feeling something! However, emotions can impact our thought processes and reactions to situations in ways that are not always helpful. When we better understand our emotions and how to regulate them, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for managing everyday situations.
Quite simply, my goal is to help clients achieve their goals. There is no better feeling than to genuinely know you have helped someone who is struggling and see the positive changes that follow. It is especially wonderful to see and realize those changes together as client and therapist, as we are both rewarded with a renewed sense of life’s possibilities for self-realization and success.
Ashley Pajor, MA, LMHC, is a clinician at Spectrum Health and Human Services. Learn more at https://www.shswny.org or call 539-5500 to make an appointment.