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  • Writer's pictureJoan M Sotelo LMFT, LPC

When to seek counseling?

Updated: May 3, 2018

How do I know if I could benefit from counseling? Everyone experiences difficult trials in their lives but when do you know if you should seek help from a therapist or just let time heal the wounds?

It is common for people to wait for a long time before seeking counseling help as they try to overcome their struggles on their own or try to let time heal the wounds. The reality is that recovery and improvement occurs much faster for those who seek help sooner.

Counseling is for anyone who is looking to overcome difficult circumstances. It is always helpful to seek the support of close friends and family and to have positive habits that help create a positive mental health. However, these at times are not enough to provide the support needed to overcome difficult trials. Seeking the help of a therapist can be beneficial as they have the skill set acquired from their studies and training in how to help others overcome the challenges they face. With the support of a trained therapist the time for healing and overcoming challenges can be a lot faster as you receive concrete guidance and informed support.

Here are seven ways to help you identify whether you could benefit from counseling:

1) Feeling unmotivated, sad, or numb

· Feeling like you are not your usual self and you feel unmotivated, moody, frequently sad, with low energy, or with low desire to do things you used to enjoy can all be signs of depression. It is best to acknowledge these changes and seek help as soon as you notice them to get back on track to how you want to feel rather than letting time pass and having these feeling spiral into something more difficult to overcome.

2) Constant worry and anxiety

· Excessive anxiety can impair your ability to do the things you want to do and make it difficult to relate to others. If worry and fear inhibit you from socializing, achieving your goals, or doing the things you want to do then seeking help from a therapist would help you have the tools and coping skills you need to overcome these anxieties.

3) Loosing someone or something important

· Loosing someone you love, having a miscarriage, loosing a home, or ending a relationship are difficult experiences have a profound impact in your life. IF you feel that it has become to difficult to enjoy your days or to talk about how you feelings with those close to you then counseling is important so that you can have the support you need to get through this difficult time.

4) Frequent arguing or feeling disconnected from your partner

· Couples therapy is most effective when couples seek counseling as soon as they start to experience difficulties. Unfortunately, it is much harder to try to save a relationship when the couple has waited so long that one of the partners has given up on the relationship. Don’t wait for later to try to improve your marriage when you can truly make positive changes that have long lasting effects on your relationship bond and overall happiness.

5) Excessive stress, anger, regret, or resentment

· Constantly dealing with stress and anger can have various negative effects on your mental health and physical health. These constant negative feelings will interfere with living a successful and fulfilling life. Therapy can help in giving you the coping skills and necessary tools to better deal with challenging situations and find healthier ways to express emotions.

6) Trauma or abuse

· Having experienced any trauma whether it is sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, or any other traumatic life event can numb the ability to feel positive emotions, alter the way you relate to others, and have a major impact your relationships and the way you experience life. Traumatic life experiences leave painful scars if left untreated; this is why it is extremely important to heal the wounds that come from them.

7) Addictions or excessive use of drugs, alcohol, food, or other substances

· Addictions not only damage your physical health but they can destroy relationships and your ability to feel joy and fulfillment. Excessive use of drugs, alcohol, food or other substances can often be a sign of deeper emotional issues such as depression and loneliness.

Does this mean that if I want to try therapy I’m going to have to go and invest year of my life to receiving help? No, therapy can be a short-term or a long-term commitment depending on what you need. In fact, according to a study from the Journal of Counseling Psychology in 2001, most people feel better with seven to ten counseling sessions.

Don’t wait for later to face and overcome the challenges that life has given you. The sooner you seek help, the faster and easier it will be to get to a better place.

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