Recently, I started sharing my story (and my phone number) with college students across the country as I have really started pursuing a new adventure as a college speaker. One of the things that always blows me away is how willing some people are to be vulnerable- if they are simply asked the right questions. Often times, I think we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget to stop and truly listen to the conversations that we have with others. One moment can change everything.
So what happens when we stop, we listen, and we ask the right questions? Recently, I was at a conference with thousands of college students and had the chance to really be “in the moment”. After facilitating a session, a young man approached me and told me his story. I listened, intently. I was surprised at what he told me. He was struggling to find himself- the person he wants to be- beyond depression. We exchanged numbers and I was thrilled to hear back from him the next day. His vulnerability was inspiring.
The conversation with the young man led to me sending him some of my favorite books on learning to love yourself. It also taught me that I had been missing a big part of asking the right questions. Whenever I speak to college students, I always ask “how are you, no really, how are you?” and tell them that it is okay not to be okay. The question that usually follows hours later via text message is “how do I do that?” Time and time again, I have found that the stigma of depression, counseling, mental illness can stop people from getting help, but there can sometimes be one other huge roadblock- they don’t know how to seek help.
Seeing a counselor or therapist isn’t what you see in the movies- no couches to lay on or ancient clipboards or ugly sweater-vests. It isn’t necessarily prying into your childhood or digging into your subconscious. It is a conversation centered around seeking hope. You get to be the guide as you work together to find solutions to what you are feeling.
Finding a therapist is sometimes a process- you want to make sure that you have the same goals, are compatible, and you feel comfortable talking to them- but it is not difficult. If you are a college student, check to see if your school has a counseling center. If you are working through an insurance provider, see who they cover via their website. If you are seeking a child, adolescent, or young adult counselor, I suggest the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy’s “Locate A Therapist” database- that is actually the tool that I used to find my current doctor.
There are so many resources out there. What are some of the ones that you have used?