Mental Health: When is it time to call in a professional?

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How do you know when it’s time to call a counselor? We encounter so many problems throughout life, and most of them we can conquer on our own or with the help of family and friends. But sometimes it's time for something more. Working with the right therapist can help you to achieve your goals as you grow. Look through the following list of indicators and if most of them are true for you, counseling may be the next best step.

You feel stuck. This is probably the most common description that you hear from clients and therapists. You might be saying to yourself, “Stuck isn’t even a feeling.” But it gives a pretty clear description of that sense that you’re trying to get somewhere but you’re running on a treadmill. No matter how fast you run, you get nowhere. You may have tapped into some of your personal resources, asking for advice from family and friends. You may have read some articles or blog posts, or maybe even a self-help book. And you’ve probably made some progress, but not as much as you’d like, and it hasn’t been sustainable. You’re looking for something that will get you farther and keep you there.

You want more support. You’ve got your friends, your family. But you’d like a professional opinion. The support a professional can give you looks different for a few reasons. It’s not biased by the fact that they are related to you or have a history of friendship. Additionally, a mental health professional is trained to use therapeutic skills; most therapists use evidence-based skills and techniques to help you achieve your goals. They can teach you new skills, help you to recognize an unhealthy pattern, or aid you in gaining a sense of closure with an unresolved issue.

You are hopeful. You’d like to improve and you have at least some glimmer of hope that it will happen. Maybe you used to feel better, so you know it’s possible, if only you could get back to your previous state of being. Or perhaps you feel better from time to time, and it’s just a matter of feeling better more consistently, making it your normal state. You are hopeful because you know you deserve better, you know you are a capable, intelligent, resilient person. If only you could harness your amazing capabilities to improve your mental well-being.

You are willing to work. You are ready to make some changes, even if it takes effort. You’ve been running on the treadmill for so long, obviously you’re willing to do the running. You may just need some guidance, some new skills, or a little push. You may need someone to get you off the treadmill and onto the race course so you’re actually making progress towards the finish line.

You’re willing to pay. I’m not just referring to the effort needed to work through anxiety and difficult issues; I’m talking money. Therapy is a financial commitment. Even if you have great insurance, there’s usually at least a co-pay. You want to make sure that the therapist with whom you choose to work is willing to discuss cost, payment options, and typical length of treatment so that you can get an idea for how much you are going to invest. And that’s just what it is: an investment. Your mental health and overall well-being is worth a financial investment.

People go to therapy for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there’s a specific issue to discuss, while other times people just want to increase their personal growth or improve their overall health. If you’re thinking that counseling might be right for you, go with your instinct! Find a therapist who is a good fit, try it out for a few weeks, and experience the difference it can make in your life.

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