When Should I Get Counselling?

I am often asked the question, “When should I seek counselling (or when should my partner, my friend, my child)?” There is no clear-cut ‘right time’ to access counselling, but there a few things to pay attention to that might help you decide when outside help might beneficial.

What is your level of distress?
How upset do you feel? How much emotional pain are you in? How anxious do you feel about ‘the problem’ (the thing that is bothering you or causing your distress)? How much sorrow are you experiencing? If your level of distress is feeling high to you, it may be a sign that you would benefit from getting some support.

2) What impact is ‘the problem’ (or your level of worry about ‘the problem’) having on your functioning?

Is ‘the problem’ getting in the way of you living the life you want to live? Are you finding it difficult to engage in the things you like to or need to do? Are you noticing interruptions to your day-to-day patterns (like eating, sleeping, working, or interacting with others)? The more disruption ‘the problem’ is causing in your life, the more likely that outside help may be warranted.

3) How persistent is the problem?

Have you tried a number of things to address your ‘problem’, but despite your efforts things don’t seem to be changing? Daily life is full of challenges and stresses. It is not unusual for all of us to experience days where our mood is low, our nerves are frayed, or we just don’t feel like ourselves. If these feelings persist beyond a couple weeks, it may be an indication that it would be helpful to access counselling.

Sometimes, people worry that the challenge they are facing seems too small or too silly to talk to a counsellor about. Let me assure you: That is not the case. What you are experiencing is important no matter how big or small. If you need help carrying the burden you are experiencing, even if for only a short while, consider contacting a counsellor. They are experts at walking along side people navigating the challenges of life.