How do you know if you need Counseling?
There are some simple questions you can ask yourself to see if counseling is right for you. If you answer yes to at least 1, then odds are higher than average that you could benefit from counseling.
If you had to rate your state of mind on an unhappy to happy scale with 0 being almost always unhappy and 10 being totally happy, would your rating be less than 5?
If your state of mind rating tends towards the unhappy side of the scale, has this been somewhat consistent for more than a month?
Are you nervous being alone or with other people?
Is your unhappiness or nervousness usually someone else’s fault or due to circumstances you feel you cannot control?
If your unhappiness is your fault, are there usually extenuating circumstances that justify your behaviors and attitudes?
Do you feel dissatisfied in the relationships that you do have?
Is it normal for you to be either angry, hopeless, or nervous in your relationships?
When you are in social situations do you typically find yourself listening so much you feel like no one is really interested in you or you have nothing worth saying? Or do you find yourself talking so much because you don’t think people are getting who you are and that makes you anxious?
Do you feel lonely whether you are alone or with people?
Have you said “no” to social invitations so often that people have stopped asking?
Do you know so much, including about yourself, that it’s nearly impossible to believe anyone can help you feel differently?
Bonus question: Do you think other people know better than you do how to live and be in the world and therefore what you think or want is either less valuable or not worth following through on?
To need counseling does not mean you are sick. It simply means that along the way you’ve developed patterns that ensure your unhappiness will flourish. One of the many goals of therapy is to identify the less than optimal patterns that keep you unhappy, disappointed, angry, anxious, hopeless, etc., and to find the courage (with the support of your therapist) to discover how you can change those patterns to create new and more fulfilling experiences for yourself. Sometimes it means being more vulnerable, sometimes it means being less vulnerable. It always means finding those places of agitation and uneasiness in yourself. And that takes courage. Asking for help takes courage. Especially in today’s world where somehow there is this pervasive sense that we should magically know how to navigate a world where there are few successful examples of how to be in relationship with others. We have countless unsuccessful examples of how to do it and we tend to repeat those examples out of a belief that the reason the relationships are not working out right is because the other person is doing it wrong, or that we are losers. Neither of those is correct.
Would you expect someone to be able to read if they never learned the alphabet? If they didn’t know how to use a dictionary? If they hadn’t read children’s books? Asking yourselves to be good at relationships when the likelihood is that your parents weren’t happy, or they divorced, or there were step-parents, or you were a latch-key kid, or worse there was abuse in the family towards others or you, is like asking yourselves to swim in the deep end of the pool despite never having been in the shallow end. Very very few can keep their head above water. In this metaphor, therapy is about learning to swim not just to keep yourself from drowning, but also to keep you from fearing you’ll drown once it gets deep.