How do I know when I need counselling?
How indeed...There might be times when seeking counselling might feel obviously 'right', when emotional responses such as sadness, anxiety or anger can feel extreme, inappropriate or overwhelming, or when there’s been a trauma, loss or bereavement which dominates and pervades. It can also be more subtle and difficult to decide. Perhaps there’s a sense in which day-to-day activity has become difficult and that difficulty is just that bit too much to manage without some support. Perhaps there’s a sense in which ‘getting it right’ dominates and trying to achieve this is becoming harder to do. Perhaps the patterns on which a lifetime has been founded, just aren’t that helpful any more. Maybe there’s a niggling feeling that something just isn’t fitting right?
When the threshold or divide between the internal world (for example how we see or feel about ourselves, or how we believe others perceive us) and the external world (the environment in which we exist and activities with which we engage) starts to feel uncertain, inconsistent or unsafe, then perhaps it might be helpful to explore this therapeutically. There may be something around isolation and relationship - feeling ‘out of step’ with others, perhaps a feeling of anxiety or discomfort, pain or anger around social interactions, which might previously have been fun. Looking at where you might be in this more deeply, in a supportive, non-judgemental, therapeutic relationship could be, over time, transformative.
Entering therapy, is such an individual decision and one which can feel so weighted with hope, dread, desperation or perhaps confusion. It can be filled with expectation - both one’s own and perhaps the expectations of those to whom we’re close to, who might be expecting changes. The need to make sense of where we are in life and in the world around us, is one that can be brought to therapy and the journey that is created therapeutically can help to generate a map that marries the internal landscape to the external one, in an enriching and supportive way.
The timing, knowing whether now is right to enter therapy is deeply personal and it can feel a huge decision. Exploring this with a therapist in an initial session can help inform this decision. And the process, having been started doesn’t mean a lifetime commitment if it just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes, knowing when therapy is needed and whether it’s the right time or the right therapist, might mean making a 'start' and then listening to how it feels. It is deeply personal.
About the author
Merri Mayers, an MBACP registered counsellor, works near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Merri is an integrative therapist employing the most effective aspects of person centred, gestalt, psychodynamic, systemic and TA models. She works relationally, understanding that how we engage with others can illuminate how we see and feel about ourselves.
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