Frequently Asked Questions About Seeing A Behavioral Health Counselor

I grew up in a loveless family. If someone asked me to draw what my childhood home was like, I would point them to The Willoughbys, an animated movie where the parents only cared for themselves, not for their children. Still, my parents were not as frivolous as the Willoughbys’ parents.

You see, my mother was a successful businesswoman. She owned multiple salons throughout the state and would visit them as often as possible every month, which meant that she was always on the road. Meanwhile, my father was also traveling most of the time, considering he handled various singers and bands. But whenever my parents had a few days off, they would typically jet off to London, Paris, or Bahamas to spend time together.


Where would my two younger sisters and I be, you might ask? Well, unlike the Willoughby kids, we all had nannies to take care of us at home. We could ask for any food or toy in the world, and it would be presented to us on a silver platter. With the vastness of the house, we could all throw three different parties without our guests bumping into each other. Despite that, we always longed to at least share a meal with both our parents once a month to feel like we were still a family.

It’s too sad that it only happened once in a blue moon. No matter how much we asked – sometimes begged – our parents to let us join their trips, they would say no. No one could say that it was because of money, considering our house’s monstrosity, but they merely loved going out with each other. Because of that, I vowed to become a better father, a better parent; once I was old enough to have a family.

It Happened, But Then It Didn’t

I managed to fulfill my promise twenty years later. My wife and I had been blessed with two kids, and they were in the center of our universe. We attended every activity that they participated in, including school plays, even if the kids only acted as trees or grass without any lines. Of course, we drove them to every football or baseball practice and cheered the loudest during matches.

When the kids were both in elementary school, I decided to start my own business. The initial goal was to generate a stable income without me working a 9-to-5 job. This way, I could be at home more.

The business venture turned out to be a success. I began getting invitations to speak at conventions and tell them about my winning story. A publishing company also said that they would love to publish any book that I had in mind. More importantly, my healthy ice cream shops had already branched out to different states.


In truth, I earned more money and fame than I had ever expected in the last two years. I did not have much time to stay at home like I originally planned, but I thought it was for the kids’ future anyway. That was until I got the slap of a lifetime when my wife told me that she was planning to file for divorce because I became an absentee husband and father.

I flew home that day and begged my wife not to leave me. She eventually agreed but not until I promised to see a behavioral health counselor shake off the habits I learned from my absentee parents.

1. What does a behavioral health counselor do? 

 A behavioral health counselor is responsible for offering different therapy kinds to patients until they find the most suitable one for the latter.

2. Is counseling considered behavioral health? 

 Yes, counseling is considered a part of behavioral health.

3. Should I see a psychologist or a counselor? 

 It depends on what kind of help you are seeking. For instance, if you are yet to receive a diagnosis, you need to see a psychologist first. If you already know your mental disorder, you may see a counselor who can provide treatment for you. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to talk to different mental health professionals, you are free to seek a psychologist who also works as a counselor.

4. How do you know if a therapist is right for you? 

  • Safety: Do you feel safe in the therapist’s office? Are there no danger signs that make you want to bolt out?
  • Competence: How long has the therapist been practicing in this field? What kinds of certifications and licenses do they have? More importantly, has anyone recommended the therapist to you?
  • Sense of Connection: Are you comfortable confiding to the therapist? Does it not feel awkward to be around them? 

5. Can therapists hug their clients? 

 No, it is unethical for therapists to hug their clients, no matter how much they see that the latter needs one. A handshake may be the only physical contact that may take place between therapists and patients.

6. What should you tell your first visit to a therapist? 

 During your first visit to a therapist, you should get to know them and their process. The mental help that they offer can come on your second visit – you need to understand first if you and the therapist will click or not. This way, if there’s anything that doesn’t sit well with you, you can look for another mental health professional.

7. Is a therapist and a counselor the same thing? 

 No, a therapist and a counselor are not the same things. The most significant distinction is the type of issues that they deal with. While therapists get trained to apply one form of therapy to their clients, counselors become experts are handling one kind of problem. 

8. What will my first therapy session be like? 

 During your first therapy session, you cannot expect the therapist to know how to treat you at once. Just like doctors, they need to assess your issues and observe you before anything else. And when we talk about “assessment” and “observation,” it does not mean that you will be placed in a hot seat or treated like a deranged person. You may find that many incredible therapists have a calming effect on others, and they are not pushy when it comes to making clients open up about their ordeals. Thus, you may be able to determine your actual goals for getting therapy clearly.


9. What happens in a Counselling session? 

 When you go to a counseling session, you can expect to be welcomed in a quiet and peaceful by your counselor. After the introduction, they may start asking questions regarding your current problems. Then, little by little, they will dig deeper, considering most people who require counseling have deep-seated issues that they cannot shake off.

10. Can a therapist diagnose? 

 No, a therapist cannot diagnose any mental disorder, no matter how accustomed they may be to seeing different psychological symptoms. If you require a diagnosis, you need a psychologist or psychiatrist because they are the only mental health professionals authorized to diagnose people.

11. Do I really need Counselling? 

 Yes, you need to seek counseling if:

  • You can no longer remember the last time that you have felt happy or excited about something.
  • You have been experiencing migraines, fatigue, and other physical manifestations of pain, which you may not be able to express in other ways.
  • Your mind is always preoccupied with depressing or worrying thoughts to the extent that you cannot perform your daily tasks anymore.
  • You find yourself on a completely different path from what you are used to, and it had been terrifying for you.

12. What type of doctor is a therapist? 

 Technically, a therapist is not a doctor. A therapist can only be called a doctor if they also happen to be psychologists with a Ph.D. or a psychiatrist. If the latter is the case, the therapist is practically a medical doctor. However, someone providing therapy alone cannot have “doctor” as one of their titles.

13. What are the three types of therapy? 

 Psychodynamic Therapy – This type primarily focuses on the unconscious reasons why you act a certain way. After all, there may be deep-seated issues from childhood whose side effects may only manifest during adulthood. Instead of committing similar erroneous patterns and asking, “Why do I do that?” you should go through psychoanalysis.

Behavioral Therapy – Behavioral therapists believe that people’s actions are often based on what they have learned from others in the past. For instance, if a man acts violently around his wife, it may be because that’s how he has seen his mother or another female relative get treated before. Despite that, the therapy takes place by focusing on an individual’s present issues and helping them curb old habits.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – According to CB therapists, a person’s way of thinking heavily influences their own behaviors. If they always think positively, then there will be no issues at all. However, if their mind is always filled with negative thoughts, they need a therapist’s help in changing those negative thought patterns and looking at the world differently to avoid doing something regretful.

14. What three general methods are used to treat mental disorders? 

 Psychotherapy remains the most common way to treat mental disorders. It appears in various forms, and a psychologist or psychiatrist may prescribe one to their patients to help them overcome their issues.

Another method makes use of self-help plans. This is ideal for people with mild conditions and is still aware of when their disorders attack. When they become aware of their trigger factors, it becomes possible for them to catch themselves before dealing with a mental breakdown or other symptoms.

In case both methods fail, a psychiatrist will have to give a drug prescription to the patients. A typical type of medication that they prescribe is an antidepressant – even for people with anxiety. 

15. Who needs cognitive-behavioral therapy?

You need cognitive-behavioral therapy if:

  • You have been diagnosed with a medical condition but do not want to treat it with medication.
  • You cannot get over the demise of a loved one.
  • The emotional trauma that another person has given you continues to affect your daily life.
  • You need help assessing your emotions to avoid getting overwhelmed every time.
  • You cannot cope with the significant changes happening around you.
  • You wish to become a more effective communicator to strengthen your relationship with others.
  • You need a better way of handling your stressors.

Final Thoughts

Behavioral counseling was challenging initially because a significant part of me still believed that I was doing nothing wrong. Luckily, I found a counselor who helped me realize how my behavior affected my relationship with my family. In those two years since my business started, I did not get a chance to attend any of my kids’ activities; I even missed their birthdays or wedding anniversary. Before counseling ended, I learned how to strike a positive balance between work and life.