My (Limited) Experience with Counseling

I moved to Seattle fairly recently, around 4 months ago, and for some reason I’ve been having more difficulty adjusting to this move than any other move I’ve done before, which I’ve definitely done a lot of.

I was born in South Korea but moved to Chicago with my family in 1st grade, then to Portland when I was in 3rd grade, then to Irvine when I was in 6th grade, then back to Seoul when I was in 9th grade, then to Notre Dame for college, then to Dallas for my first job, and now I’m in Seattle because I didn’t really enjoy living in Dallas and wanted a change of scenery. The main reason why I picked Seattle is because it’s a big tech hub and I thought I would be able to have a wider array of experiences in not just a big tech hub but a bigger city than Dallas in general.

Given all these moves, I don’t know why I’m having a lot more time adjusting to Seattle than any other place I’ve been. Actually, I do have a couple of ideas why this might be the case, one of them being the so-called Seattle Freeze. Interestingly enough, before I made the move to Seattle from Dallas, one of my friends who had attended and graduated from University of Washington warned me about the Seattle Freeze, and I remember my reaction back then being ‘oh no, that sounds horrible’, and so far, yes, it has been pretty horrible, so I wasn’t wrong there.

Anyways, this reason along with a few others made me contemplate the idea of counseling, initially pretty loosely (I was going to use the word ‘noncommittally’ here but wow, that means something completely different from what I thought it meant) but gradually more and more seriously. I learned a lot of things during the process of going from thinking about meeting with a counselor to actually meeting a counselor, some of which I’ll list here:

1. It is shockingly difficult to find a counselor you like. Hell, it’s difficult to know where to even start your search.

 

For me, I started by using a counseling referral service my company provides, of which it’s primary purpose is to help you find counselors in the referral service’s network who are close to your physical location.

This resource was both helpful and unhelpful because it gave me some confidence that the counselor was probably experienced and I was able to find somebody who specialized in the kinds of topics I wanted to talk about (ex. stress, anxiety), but her office is in Bellevue, which is further than I’d like to travel to see somebody every other week – _ – .

I then tried doing a google search on counselors, and oh my god there were so many results that I didn’t know which result to click on and it made me not want to read through any of the profiles and overwhelmed me with all the options.

The third resource I used was my health provider, who is this representative who basically works with my health insurance company to find doctors whenever I ask him to help me find one (since I don’t want to do my own research, you know). He’s usually pretty good with finding professionals who take my health insurance, and this time wasn’t any different, except, oh no, my health insurance itself didn’t really cover any counseling services. I briefly looked into all the options he sent me but they were all kind of expensive so I didn’t contact any of them. The topic of cost leads me to my next point, which is that…

2. Counseling is kind of expensive and it’s usually not covered by health insurance.

This is one of those things I think I understand why but I still don’t like it. My reasoning is that historically mental health wasn’t considered to be as real of a health problem as physical health, so a lot of older insurance plans usually don’t cover mental health services. I think even some of the newer health plans, if they do cover mental health services, don’t cover them as much as some of the other physical health services they cover. I believe medicare covers mental health services such as counseling, but only if the licensed professional accepts medicare insurance.


3. There are probably lots of counseling resources out there that aren’t as well-utilized or known about as they should be.

During my process of looking around for counseling services, specifically more affordable counseling, I stumbled upon the YMCA’s counseling services. This was an interesting find because the main reason I was at the YMCA was to try some of their group classes, but I saw on their website that they also offered counseling. That was pretty cool to see, but the information on the website wasn’t detailed enough to give me a good idea of what kinds of counseling services they meant. So naturally, since I was at the YMCA anyways, I asked the front desk attendant if I could have more information about the counseling services, and her response (in a monotone voice, lol) was pretty much “oh wow, the YMCA does that? That’s really cool, that’s why I like the YMCA so much, but I don’t know anything the counseling program so I’m going to go ask my supervisor, brb.”

So then she went and asked her supervisor, but he didn’t know anything, so he gave me the branch manager’s business card and told me he should know the things and to send him an email. Following his advice, I sent him an email later that day, and today I got a response from someone who was not the manager (I guess the manager also didn’t know the things) asking me if I had time for a call for him to explain the counseling services to me since it’s too much information to write in an email. We have yet to schedule a time for the call but overall I thought the whole experience kind of showed me that not all resources that are out there are easily available or accessible, and it made me wonder why certain things exist at all in the first place if it’s going to be so difficult to find and use them.

I guess what I should end this post with is my continued plan for counseling, so I’ll talk about that here for a bit; I pretty much have decided not to go to Bellevue again to see the counselor I saw today because she’s too far and I don’t like commuting (although it was pretty cool to see Bellevue for the first time, I haven’t had many opportunities to venture out of Seattle quite yet). There is this online counseling service that I’m giving a try called BetterHealth, and right now I’m on a 7-day trial so I’ll see how it goes! I’ll probably post a review on the online counseling session sometime later next week, which is when I have my first 30-minute session with my counselor, but otherwise I left my in-person counseling session today with a favorable impression, which was nice 🙂

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