Falak Zehra Mohsin |
There is no denying that life is full of difficulties and challenges. Some challenges we can overcome ourselves, sometimes with the help of close friends and family; but other times, we experience issues when we have to admit that we need professional help. Often we are advised to just perk up or join a gym or do yoga to improve our mental health.
However, these things, though helpful, are not a solution for when we feel stuck. Research shows that talking about ones’ feelings, goals and fears to someone unbiased can be powerful, and psychologists are trained to not judge you. In short, therapy can be life-changing.We should realize that there is no shame in seeking counseling. The question that now arises is – how does one know when they need to seek professional help?
How can we know that we need help?
Our emotional experience consists of positive and negative emotions. A balance is essential to achieve well-being functioning. There are several theories and models presented by psychologist that help analyze when our emotional well being is in trouble.
Counselors enable you to understand yourself better. Psychologists provide an opportunity to look inwards and answer questions related to oneself.
The DSM-5 is used by health professionals, social workers, and forensic and legal specialists to diagnose and classify mental disorders, and is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health.
However you don’t need the DSM in order to know when to seek psychological help. If feelings of sadness, anxiety, or any negative emotion, are disrupting your daily life, you need to seek psychological help.
If your anxiety is constant and it has started interfering with your work and other daily life activities, you should consider seeking help. Additionally, there are physical symptoms of anxiety such as frequent headaches, restlessness, diarrhea, shortness of breath and so on, that should not be ignored either.
Psychological services or counseling is not only for “ill” individuals. Anyone feeling low or even having disturbances in his or her interpersonal relationships or at work can seek counseling.
Research shows that talking about ones’ feelings, goals and fears to someone unbiased can be powerful, and psychologists are trained to not judge you.
You should also keep a check on your behavioral pattern. Do you notice anything different in your habits? For instance have you recently lost interest in a hobby you previously enjoyed? Have your sleeping habits and eating habits changed? Feeling a lack of motivation to go to work or perform daily life activities could be signs of depression that should not be overlooked either. Other behavioral changes that shouldn’t be overlooked are things like increased smoking or drinking, and other forms of drug use that one might be using as means of escape.
Are you having trouble communicating your feelings with your loved ones? Relationship issues are another area where counseling can be helpful. Couples or marital counseling can help save your relationship as it can help both parties voice their concerns and chalk out a plan to work on them. Family therapy can involve siblings, parents and children. Here the aim is to resolve family conflicts and improve communication within the family. A psychologist helps improve family relations and enables family members to work together to support each other during trying times.
Death is inevitable, and not appropriately dealing with the loss of a loved one can adversely affect our mental health. Grief counseling is often helpful under such circumstances. A counselor can help you find appropriate ways of dealing with the loss
Similarly, people often need help to deal with a recent or some past trauma. The trauma can be of any intensity and nature – from sexual harassment to being in an earthquake to facing discrimination at work. A psychologist can help map out a strategy on how to cope with it and achieve catharsis.
Couples or marital counseling can help save your relationship as it can help both parties voice their concerns and chalk out a plan to work on them.
A major sign for understanding that it is time to seek professional help and counseling is when your close family members and friends advise you to do so. When people close to you voice their concerns, they should not be ignored as sometimes others can notice things about us that we might not realize.
An outside perspective can be worthwhile. Another reason to seek counseling is when you feel you don’t have adequate support in life; it helps to have someone who would listen to you without judging or lecturing you!
Feelings of anxiety, depression, going to life crisis are not the only reasons for seeking counseling. Athletes for instance consult psychologists for motivations and to calm nerves before a big game. Counselors can help improve mental clarity. Simply talking out loud to someone can improve concentration and encourage goal seeking behavior in people. Psychologists can help people visualize their goals and future.
Thus consulting them for career guidance and such can be helpful. Counselors enable you to understand yourself better. Psychologists provide an opportunity to look inwards and answer questions related to oneself. Understanding our own feelings, behaviors and thoughts can lead to self-realization and really empower a person.
Falak Zehra Mohsin is a Psychologist and also teaches at IBA in Karachi. Falak tweets at @.