For over eleven years, I have studied and worked in the field of mental health. Throughout those years, the way I have viewed counseling has drastically changed. When I first got into the field, I had a very “medical model” based view on counseling. As a product of the late 90’s, I observed pharmaceutical advertising as a daily feature of television programming, indoctrinating a formula of “ailment plus pill equals cure” into my mind. Pharmaceutical advertising furthered the concept that mental health was something to be cured, and when “bad” mental health occurrences take place we should seek to eliminate them. Treating mental health issues similar to the way you would treat a bacterial infection is still a common practice.
Over time, I’ve realized that utilizing the “medical model” based perspective is far from effective. Counseling is more akin to building and maintaining a house, rather than curing a physical ailment. While we maintain and repair our homes out of necessity, we renovate out of a desire to make improvements. Counseling is the tool we use to accomplish both. While counseling is utilized as a reparative tool, it is also used to renovate, constructing features that add to who we are to enhance our view of paths that make our lives more fulfilling and complete. This “renovation” component of counseling is the element of counseling that is less talked about. It, however, is one that should be highlighted more prevalently.
This misconception underscores the dynamic value of counseling by showing it’s strengths on both sides of the coin. It is a diverse tool that can lead to reparative as well as renovative transformations in many facets of our lives. We only need to employ the tools of counseling.
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