It’s a popular myth that you have to be deeply disturbed or “crazy” to seek counseling. When to seek counseling is an entirely personal decision, and one most people don’t enter into lightly. With a strong support system and communication skills, you’ll weather the little struggles that crop up in day-to-day life. Most people can benefit from therapy at least once in their lives. Sometimes the signs are obvious but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you may struggle to figure out what it is. So you trudge on, trying to sustain your busy life until it sets in that life has become unmanageable. At what point should you seek help?
Our counselors are trained to intervene or provide support for a countless number of issues, far too many to list in any comprehensive way. While counseling might be helpful in numerous situations, there are some conditions in which we would strongly encourage you to seek counseling services:
- You are unhappy on most days or feel a sense of hopelessness
- You worry excessively or are constantly on edge
- You are unable to concentrate on your schoolwork or other activities
- You are unable to sleep at night or constantly feel tired
- You have experienced a change in your appetite or your weight
- You have experienced a loss (e.g., a relationship breakup, a parent’s death)
- You have increased your use of alcohol or other drugs (including cigarettes)
- You feel overwhelmed by what is going on in your life
- You are having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else
If you decide that therapy is worth a try, it doesn’t mean that you’re in for a lifetime of “head shrinking.” In fact, a 2001 study in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found that most people feel better within seven to 10 visits. In another study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88 percent of therapy-goers reported improvements after just one session.
Although severe mental illness may require more intensive intervention, most people benefit from short-term, goal-oriented therapy to address a specific issue or interpersonal conflict, get out of a rut or make a major life decision. The opportunity to talk uncensored to a non-biased professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-changing.
You may have great insight into your own patterns and problems. You may even have many of the skills to manage them on your own. Still, there may be times when you need help – and the sooner you get it, the faster you can get back to enjoying life.