5 signs it’s time to seek counselling
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Deborah Kerr BACP Accredited UKRCP Registered
8th September, 20160 Comments
If your friend or family member told you they were receiving counselling what would you think?
Today, counselling and psychotherapy is often kept a secret by those in treatment. Despite the stigma there’s heaps of research providing evidence that the talking cure is effective in treating many of life’s problems. But why are people still afraid to seek help or hide the fact they’re receiving help? Most people who are in treatment keep it a secret as they fear being judged ‘mentally ill’ or ‘crazy’, or they feel ashamed to admit they are not coping. They may want to protect family members from feeling guilty or fear talking to someone ‘outside the family’ is disloyal and will hurt them.
Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be ‘mad, bad or sad’ to go to counselling. You don’t have to be desperate or on the brink of a breakdown. Far too often, people are letting their problems become chronic before they seek the help they need. Evidence has shown that the sooner you seek help the sooner you will feel better. So instead of soldiering on trying to cope and sustain your busy life, here are 5 signs that tell you it’s time to seek help:
1. Feeling pressured - stressed, unable to meet demands, unable to cope
When under pressure you might be the kind of person who speeds up, working harder and faster in order to cope or you might be the person who develops strategies in which to avoid meeting demands, letting people down along the way. These coping methods eventually breakdown resulting in either burn out or cause you to make sudden decisions without thinking them through that could, in the long term, be detrimental to your needs.
2. Experiencing intense feelings – anxious, fearful, anger, sadness, jealousy
Feelings can be confusing, often we don’t know why we feel the way we do. Feelings can become muddled and we might for instance, feel angry when really we’re sad. We might be anxious about something seemingly irrational and so try and talk ourselves out of it. We might direct our feelings towards the wrong people and then find it hard to explain. Understanding our feelings is important if we are to communicate clearly, especially to the ones we love.
3. Feeling underwhelmed – lacking motivation, depressed or feeling like a stranger to yourself
You’ve stopped doing the activities you once enjoyed and you don’t know why. You’ve stopped engaging with family and friends and prefer to be alone. You might feel at a loss, lack energy or feel confused, not understanding what’s happening around you.
4. Developing bad habits and don’t know how to stop – alcohol, drugs, sex, food, excessive exercise
Turning to substances or patterns of behaviour in order to avoid life or cope with feelings can become a habit that becomes hard to break. If you feel unable to control these behaviours despite the negative consequences in your life, you may be struggling with an addiction.
5. Having experienced a traumatic event
You may find yourself a victim of a crime or a sudden accident or chronic illness and struggle finding ways in which to process the event. You may experience flash-backs or nightmares or experience sudden outbursts of unexpected emotion. You may have a history of abuse, neglect or trauma that’s been left unresolved and could be affecting your everyday life.
Most people can benefit from counselling at least some stage in their lives, and to have the opportunity to talk uncensored to a non-biased professional without fear of judgement can be rewarding and life-changing. You may have great insight into your own problems and you may have the skills to manage by yourself or have the support network around you but there may be times when you need help; and the sooner you get it, the better.
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