Written by: Janylene Turcotte, Cl.hyp, ACC, RTT, Executive Contributor - article published in Brainz Magazine
Do you often feel preoccupied by an obsessive need to search for a therapist, psychologist or coach to help you tackle your life’s overwhelming issues, while at the same time wondering if you are even well enough to ask for help?
f you answered yes to the above, then you are not alone. In fact, many people have a strong feeling that they need help, but are weary of embarking on what they believe will be a full-time commitment to endless therapy. Others are plagued by a nagging feeling that if they just hang on a little longer, everything will be alright. While this may sometimes be true, in most cases, reaching out to a professional, even just once, can make a big difference.
The world of therapy has really evolved and today people have many different options ranging from traditional or group therapy to life-coaching, somatic therapy and so much more. Sometimes, it’s a matter of trial and error, but in the end a trained professional can help guide you to make the choice that best suits your needs and situation. The objective, no matter how you define your needs, is not to avoid discomfort and pain at all costs, but to find someone who can help you navigate your life with more ease.
Some people seek help as an urgent fix for a short-term problem that has suddenly become too hard to handle, while others prefer a schedule of ongoing help and continuous support. Personally, I am more inclined to take a hybrid approach, wherein I can benefit from periods of ongoing support, ‘as needed’ for specific issues, then take a break.
Whether you are in it for the long haul or just need a quick fix, our subconscious mind can act as a guide, signaling us with subtle, or not-so-subtle hints that seeking out some form of support could be beneficial.
The following are what I consider the ‘Top 10’ signs that you may be in need of professional help and support. This can include any single or combination of available therapies.
Possibly the most obvious. You feel a constant need to talk to someone. You are unsure whether or not you have an issue and don’t know what is really going on, but you feel the urge to talk to someone freely and release the thoughts constantly playing in your head. This is often what pushes me to seek support and not surprisingly, I always find unexpected gems of wisdom after I reach out to someone.
You experience recurring dreams and images or scenes from your past. They may seem trivial and unimportant but often contain the keys to a better understanding of your inner self. In these cases, clients will often start their session with something like…”I know this will sound bizarre, but I keep seeing myself at five years old playing in the sandbox with my toys…” Sure enough, when we explore further and discover the feelings lurking behind these scenes, the client can see how it interferes in their current lives and the importance of changing these old childhood beliefs for healthier ones that don’t inhibit them.
You keep finding yourself in the same uncomfortable, unhealthy situations and don’t know how to act any other way. The brain is a muscle with memory and likes to keep us safe with what is familiar. It is easy to fall back on what we have been doing for years and an objective point of view of the situation may help you break these cycles.
People around you make comments about some of your behaviors or habits. It may be something they feel is affecting you in a negative way—for example, your alcohol intake, or other destructive behaviors—whatever it is, when you have one or more people you trust and know mean well making the same comments about certain habits of yours, it is a good indication that it may be time to reflect and see if there is any truth to what they say and seek help. Sometimes, the people around us notice things about ourselves that we cannot—things that have become habitual and part of our behavioural patterns. An outsider looking in tends to be more objective and can offer a fresh perspective on damaging behaviours that we have become desensitized to over time.
An unexpected event or situation triggers you to the point where you seem to be unable to regulate your emotions for an extended period of time. You may be reacting in realtime to a past trauma, signaling that this is a good time to seek help to try and see what is really happening.
You are at a turning point in your life; a new parent, retirement or a new position at work and you are experiencing difficulty with these changes or are just in need of some support to help you ease into this new stage.
You have been presented with multiple opportunities or options and you are unable to make a decision. You have asked the people you know and trust and it seems like there are as many opinions as there are people! In this case, talking to an objective professional who has no vested interest in your decision, can help you determine what you really want.
You’ve made a big decision (divorce, leaving employment, returning to school etc.) but you are unable to take action. You might be feeling under siege and fearful and these feelings are taking over, making it difficult or impossible to move forward. Understanding the beliefs behind your fears and letting them go is a very powerful tool. With a great transition strategist to help you design the journey, you may find yourself in your new life faster than you think.
You are unhappy with where you are in life. You envy others, you belittle yourself, you are angry, frustrated and feel you are a victim. It happens to almost all of us at some point—whether after a difficult learning experience or some bad luck—but when it takes over your life for weeks and even months, you have nothing to lose in seeking support and trying to move away from those morose, oppressive feelings.
You are quite content in your life and yet there is one very particular thing that is not going as smoothly as it could and you can’t pinpoint why? You might have an idea, but you know the status quo is not what you want.
These 10 points are just a small sample of situations that can indicate you are in need of some professional guidance. Remember, seeking help, whether in the long or short term, will have positive benefits—at the very least, you will have a deep, open conversation with an expert who can help you discover what’s at the heart of your issue and how to move forward.
I have found that there is always something to learn from getting help, even in the short term. And it is always comforting to discover the benefits of give and take that are unique to the therapist-client relationship.
Fear of the unknown is often a major deterrent to seeking help for people who find themselves in limbo. But taking that first important step could open the door to a wonderful journey towards self-exploration and feeling better.