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).

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3RR
Written by Fiona Godfrey, MBACP (Accredited)
Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3RR

I'm a humanistic Psychotherapist and Counsellor working in Brecon and Llandeilo. Therapy for me is a process of unforming what no longer serves us, in order to form healthier ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

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