When Is The “Right Time” To Go To Counseling?
By Jennifer Owen, PhD, LPC, NCC
Have you ever considered going to counseling? Did you end up changing your mind by thinking to yourself, “No. I don’t need counseling. My life isn’t that bad.”
I’ve heard phrases like this far more than I could count! Unfortunately, the idea of going to counseling is still associated with negative connotations. Some may think,
“If I go to counseling, that means…”
- I’m crazy.
- I’m messed up.
- My marriage will never last.
- I’m a bad parent.
- I’m a terrible person.
- There’s no hope for me.
There’s a common misconception that things have to be REALLY bad before you can reach out for help. Let me tell you, this is completely FALSE! It is not only common but encouraged for people to seek help before they find that things get worse.
So, when is the “right time” to go to counseling? I’d say the right time is during the good times, the bad times, and the ugly times. Let me explain what this might look like.
During the Good Times
Let’s say that overall, your life is pretty good. Your job is not bad, your relationships with friends and family are fine, and you’re overall doing well. Maybe you don’t have a major crisis going on or a huge problem that needs to be fixed; however, you could still use some help in other areas such as:
- Gaining a deeper perspective of yourself and others
- Strengthening your relationships
- Learning new coping skills
- Finding better ways of communicating
- Managing work/life balance
- Processing recent life changes (such as moving to a new place, starting college, starting a new job, becoming a parent, becoming an empty nester, etc.)
All of those are valid reasons to see a counselor. You may find that short-term counseling is just what you need to process some of those things in order to make your “good times” even better.
During the Bad Times
Let’s say that life is a bit more difficult and you are in the middle of a “bad time”. Life circumstances are stressful, you don’t like your job, your relationships are rocky, and overall, you are struggling. You wouldn’t consider yourself in a crisis but things could certainly be better than they are right now. Maybe counseling could help you:
- Process work stressor and learn how to best handle that stress
- Learn better ways of communicating with difficult co-workers and/or family members
- Implement healthier communication skills with spouse and/or children
- Learn new ways to address low self-esteem
- Process spiritual incongruence and questioning
- Develop coping skills to address anger, sadness, and worry
Counseling may be just the extra support you need to help get you through this difficult season of life.
During the Ugly Times
Just a quick disclaimer here. The term “ugly” is in no way meant to describe you or anyone else as a person; rather, this term is simply used to depict how difficult life circumstances may be at any given moment.
Now, let’s say that you are in an “ugly” life circumstance. You find that life is too difficult to bear, your marriage is falling apart, you are grieving the death of a loved one, you experienced a horrific trauma, you are questioning your reasons for living. You may feel shame, guilt, self-hate, anger, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and/or helplessness. Counseling can be an incredibly helpful resource during difficult times like these by:
- Providing you a safe space to process distressing emotions
- Provide increased knowledge and understanding of the brain’s reactions to traumatic experiences
- Provide evidence-based techniques to help you through unimaginable pain and heartache
- Connecting you with additional resources and support systems
- Prove you with a glimmer of hope that you are not alone!
So, when is the “right time” to go to counseling?
ANYTIME! During the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Remember, it is okay that you don’t have all the answers. It is okay to ask for help. You are NOT ALONE!
*** If you are in need of counseling, please contact us at Hope for Tomorrow Counseling at 434-300-HOPE (4673) or on our website at https://www.patrickhenry.org/counseling/ ***