Building mental resilience – how do counselors help?


Many people turn to mental health counselors when struggling with intense life situations, overcoming trauma, or building strength against life’s stressors. In any case, it is the job of a counselor to look for ways to ensure their patients have the coping mechanisms and internal tools needed to approach life’s toughest challenges.

But what is mental resilience from a counseling perspective, and how can counselors help their patients become more robust against future challenges? This article will look broadly at strengths and consider different techniques and approaches counselors may use.

What is mental resilience?

Mental resilience is an asset in adapting to life’s different problems or challenges. Building resilience is essential for facing ever-changing issues, whether emotional stress, trauma, or even work-related overwhelm. It is about withstanding adversity and returning to a plateau of calm reasoning. Many refer to this as being able to ‘bounce back.’

Bouncing back, however, takes considerable time and effort to perfect. Resilience isn’t something individuals can develop overnight, so counselors are highly sought-after to provide guidance and support.

Mental health counselors can assess individual cases and ensure patients receive direct support to help them withstand future pressures. This might include addressing current or present traumas or applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to help their patients become more robust.

Mental resilience also looks different from person to person. One patient’s method of bouncing back might be very different from another.

When undertaking a course such as an online masters in clinical mental health counseling at a reputable institution, such as American International College, student counselors will quickly learn to be adaptive, active listeners to help people find their mental resilience. Many of AIC’s modules are rooted in how counselors can adapt techniques and practice to individual demands.

How can counselors help patients build mental resilience?

Counselors have many tools and techniques to help people become more robust against various mental stressors and challenges. However, all patients have slightly different needs. Here are a few ways a counselor might support a patient struggling to bounce back and stay resilient against various stressors.

Exploring emotional triggers

For some, exploring the concept of resilience starts with becoming self-aware of emotions and how they are triggered. Counselors can help people recognize how their emotions are triggered under stressful or traumatic situations, doing so without judgment so they can identify patterns in the future.

Emotion management is highly beneficial for people who enter fight-or-flight mode when faced with a specific pressure or challenge. Counselors can help their patients recognize when emotional triggers are about to occur and mentally intervene to prevent their mental states from escalating.

Offering coping techniques

Sometimes, mental resilience is achievable through simple practice of meditative or breathing exercises. Counselors may recommend physical activities to patients when they could benefit from centering themselves at the moment.’

This could be especially useful if their mental state escalates with minimal provocation. Counselors can listen to patients and learn more about their triggers, recommending moments where they might be able to try a breathing technique or ‘step out’ of a situation. As all patients will have differing needs and demands from their counselors, these techniques are adaptable.

Encouraging healthier habits

For many, changing physical habits such as diet and exercise can positively affect how they manage mental health and react to stress. Therefore, working with a general physician, counselors may advise patients to change their lifestyles to boost their mental resilience.

Making simple changes to habits can lead to consistently healthy decision-making and help people become more autonomous in their self-care. A counselor might suggest their patients look into different types of self-care, such as trying yoga poses, drinking more water, and completing a daily gratitude journal.

Helping patients find compassion

Building mental resilience might sometimes have roots in finding compassion for others and becoming more sociable. Some might find that caring for others close to them encourages building a more compassionate attitude towards everyone they work with and meet.

Practicing compassion can help people learn how to approach complex situations and relationships that might create stress or anxiety. Empathy allows people to understand others’ viewpoints and decision-making.

Therefore, counselors might encourage their patients to try compassion-building exercises and practice kindness to others wherever possible. In some cases where patients might be withdrawn or show antisocial tendencies, it is reasonable for counselors to expect something of a challenge. Therefore, practicing active listening and showing compassion themselves could unlock helpful doors.

Feeling compassion toward others helps people to combat stress triggered by frustration caused by others’ actions. Appreciating others’ viewpoints and experiences means they will be more mentally resilient when they clash with other people in the future.

Is counseling the answer for building mental resilience?

Mental resilience isn’t something that always comes easy. At the same time, some may say that life experience encourages natural resilience; learning to combat complex stresses and anxieties can take time and effort.

Therefore, a mental health counselor is perfectly positioned to help people find their oaths toward resilience. A counselor can listen to patients’ current problems and tailor techniques, coping mechanisms, and exercises that eventually become autonomous habits to be relied upon for life.

For those who struggle to explore resilience concepts independently and need help from a professional to guide them through proven techniques, the work of a mental health counselor is vital. However, as always, different people have varying needs and expectations!

Counselors work hard to help their patients grow stronger despite trauma and daily stressors. It is work that continues to deserve praise.