How is therapy different from just talking to a good friend or family member?
More than just a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, therapy with a knowledgeable professional gives you the opportunity to explore your problems in a new light and gain clearer perspectives on yourself and your relationships. In therapy, you don’t have to worry about hurting another’s feelings or saying things that would be considered shocking or inappropriate. Therapy provides you with the safety to explore your issues without fear of reprisals or repercussions. Friends and family members may be well-meaning, but they don’t have the expertise to help guide you in the most effective and therapeutic ways.
I feel uncomfortable having to ask for help. Is this a common reaction?
Yes, this is a common reaction and is quite normal. Admitting to yourself that you need help working through your problems and confiding them in someone else can be initially intimidating. But keep in mind that entering therapy is a sign of strength, health and courage. It is a positive choice you are making to actively address and resolve the problems that are causing you stress and pain. Most people find that by sharing and examining their problems with an experienced therapist, they end up feeling much better about themselves and have happier and more satisfying lives.
How do I know if I could benefit from therapy?
It is normal to experience periods of sadness, worry, frustration and anger in reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks and disappointments. Over time, the painful feelings dissipate and we move on with our lives. However, if you experience any of the following problems over a prolonged period of time or if they impact your functioning in your home, workplace or social life, you could benefit from psychological counseling:
· Persistent sadness
· Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
· Low self-esteem
· Increased feelings of irritability or anger
· Feeling numb or “empty”
· Thoughts of death or suicide
· High levels of anxiety and worry
· Frequent feelings of restlessness and tension
· Racing thoughts, especially when trying to sleep
· Panic attacks characterized by intense apprehension, fearfulness or terror, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, and/or trembling
· Fear of losing control or going “crazy”
· Avoiding certain situations in order to prevent panic or anxiety
· Change in your sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep or sleeping more than usual)
· Change in your appetite or weight (increase or decrease)
· Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling “slowed down”
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and/or making decisions
· Diminished ability to accomplish tasks
· Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed (including sexual activity)
· Strained interpersonal relationships (with spouse, family, friends and/or coworkers)
· Social isolation