How do I know I’m ready for counselling?

Getting Started with Shelley Peterson

Thankfully, today we live in a world where counselling has shed the stigma of something that’s only for people who are crazy, desperate, or on the brink of a meltdown.

While counselling therapy isn’t necessary for every life struggle, it’s all too easy to believe that the issues we face are just not ‘extreme enough’ to need counselling, that somehow the things we are wrestling with don’t matter.

The thing is, if the issues you’re struggling with are impacting your life today, and likely to inhibit your future happiness, prospects, relationships, or wellbeing – then they do matter.

So how do you know when it’s time to seek some counselling?

Here are six signs that might help you recognise the time is ‘now’.

1: You’re “not yourself”

If you’re eating or sleeping more or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, you’ve stopped doing activities that you normally enjoy, finding it hard to laugh these days, or dealing with long periods of intense sadness, anger, or anxiety – then it’s time to talk to someone before it escalates. Counsellors are trained to help you to identify the reasons behind these feelings that can overwhelm and debilitate, and importantly give you the tools to tackle them.

2: Your emotions are increasingly disproportionate to what is actually going on

What you’re looking for here is behaviour that’s not normal for you – so do you find yourself flying off-the-handle more than you used to? Or bursting into tears at the slightest provocation? When an emotional response does not match what has triggered it, it’s often because longstanding suppressed emotions are fighting to come to the surface. A Counsellor can help you to unpack and finally deal with them.

3: You suspect your relationships could be better than they are

One of the main ways underlying issues surface is through our relationships. You may be struggling to connect to your partner, children, and parents, or finding it difficult to maintain a romantic relationship, a friendship, or to deal with colleagues at work. Counselling can help you to identify and change the things that are blocking intimacy or preventing happiness in a relationship.

4: There’s a past or present trauma – bereavement, personal or family health issues including mental health problems, marital or relationship breakdown, violence, redundancy…

When we are living through some sort of traumatic event, it can be easy to believe we need to suck-it-up, and afterwards to think we’re through it. However, weeks, months, or years later we can find that our lives are still impacted. Maybe you’re tired of being strong all the time. There is no shame in needing a little expert help to get through the loss of a loved one, a significant breakup, or the loss of a job. A Counsellor can also give you healthy ways to cope with past or present traumas.

5: Your self-esteem is about as low as it can be

In a world that increasingly dictates what we should do, who we should be, and what we need to look like, it can be a real challenge to maintain self-esteem. Feeling misunderstood, not listened to, that you’ve lost-out, and that you’re not being ‘authentically you’, can lead to alienation and loneliness. Counsellors are trained to get to know you, and help identify what is stopping you from feeling good about yourself. Together we can find new ways to grow your self-worth.

6: You can’t seem to stop making choices that are damaging

It’s common to turn to ‘things’ that make us feel better, but they can have a damaging effect longer-term. Is it time to admit to an unhealthy relationship with food, alcohol, drugs, substance abuse? Maybe you’re constantly overspending, choosing destructive romantic relationships, or physically self-harming? It can be hard to control this behaviour until you understand what’s triggering it.

Any of these sound familiar to you?

If so, take a read of my ‘Getting Started‘ page which will help you understand the support you get from my person-centred counselling approach.

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