An emotional heath check
If you're considering counselling or psychotherapy, you might be asking yourself whether it's worth it? You might be questioning ‘do I really need to do this?’ or ‘how could things be better?’. If so, it might be worth doing an emotional health check to orientate yourself. A bit like an MOT on a car, it can tell you what parts might need some attention.
Below are some useful questions to ask yourself.
Your answers to the questions might also provide useful information to discuss with a counsellor or psychotherapist either when or before, you start seeing them. You might rate yourself 0-10 in each area. A low total score or a low score in one particular area could be a useful indicator that counselling or psychotherapy could be helpful.
Sense of self
Do I feel I know who I am? Do I have a good sense of what I need and what I like? Am I able to feel consistent in myself, or do I change to please other people? Is my sense of self-esteem reliable, or can I get derailed and become self-doubting or self-critical?
Do I feel entitled to look after myself, and to put myself first when I need to? Or do I get exhausted and resentful because I usually put other people's needs before my own? Do I know what I need when I'm feeling low and tired, and can I prioritise what I need in order to feel better? Do I have good support and can I ask for help?
Can I feel the full range of emotions available to me as a human being? Do I experience love, joy, calm and excitement alongside manageable levels of anger, grief, fear and regret? Are my feelings roughly in balance? Are some missing, do I feel numb, or have the more difficult feelings taken over? Can I move between feelings, or do I get stuck in a bad place? Can I tolerate difficult feelings or do I engage in unhealthy behaviours to try not to feel, or to feel better?
Can I register my feelings and communicate them cleanly? Can I ask for what I want and negotiate directly with others or do I become aggressive, manipulative or gossiping? Can I hear another person's needs or complaints without becoming defensive or self-critical? Can I take risks and be courageous in what I share with others. Can I make good judgements about who to let in, or do I just keep myself closed to everyone?
Can I bond with another person in a way that feels satisfying? Are my relationships satisfying? Can I experience feelings of love, compassion and excitement with others or do I get critical or threatened in relationships? Can I let myself feel attached without getting overwhelmed or becoming fearful of being controlled, abandoned or betrayed? Can I recognise and change or end unhealthy attachments?
Work and rest
Do I feel satisfied by how I work and what I do? Am I making good use of my skills and intelligence? Can I commit to something and persevere to get to a satisfactory endpoint, or do I give up easily? Do I have a good balance between work and rest? Do I know how to stop? Can I switch off? Can I say 'no' when I need to?
Change and endings
Do I feel confident that I can manage endings, or am I fearful and rigid about change? Can I let go and allow myself to grieve a loss? Can I start again when I need to? Can I tolerate saying 'goodbye'? Am I at peace with the losses and bereavements in my life?
Creativity and play
Do I enjoy my imagination, playfulness and humour? Can I be playful and get excited by things, including my own ideas? Can I enjoy learning, taking risks in developing new skills and trying out new possibilities? Am I confident and imaginative about my sexuality?
These questions are drawn from my own experience as a psychotherapist and also reference James Masterson's book The Search for the Real Self (Free Press, 1990).
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