By: Frank Kieffer, MS, NCC, Licensed Professional Counselor
Holy Redeemer Counseling Center
Deciding if one should seek counseling can be a challenging decision for many people to make despite the tremendous distress they may be experiencing in their daily lives.
In fact, many people often suffer with their problems from a few weeks to several years before actually seeking professional help. This means that many people suffering with problems such as anxiety, depression, excessive anger or complicated grief can remain in a state of turmoil for years before obtaining the help they need. The results of this hesitancy can be devastating and include lost opportunities, relationship problems, occupational troubles, unnecessary emotional suffering and a reduction in their general quality of life.
So how does one make this difficult decision of whether or not to seek counseling? The American Counseling Association provides some general guidelines on their web site to help individuals decide if they need to seek help:
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above, it may be time to seek the help of a professional counselor. However, making the decision to actually seek help can still be extremely difficult for people, even if they identify with the above, and lead to paralyzing indecisiveness that often intensifies one’s current troubles.
- Feelings of sadness five out of seven days per week
- Recently suffering a loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive worrying/anxiety
There are number of techniques you can use at home on your own to resolve your ambivalence and to decide whether or not you would like to engage in counseling with a trained professional:
- A simple and quick technique is to write down the pros and cons of a particular decision, in this case, going to counseling. The key is actually writing down each of the pros and cons rather than only “thinking it over.” Writing it down in this fashion encourages deeper thought and allows for further reflection, as once the task is completed it can be reviewed at any time.
- A more focused version of this intervention can be used if there is a specific behavior you are considering changing, such as drinking habits. To adapt this technique, simply write down the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of your current habit.
- For risky behaviors or actions that may have gotten you into trouble in the past, consider weighing the costs and benefits of changing the risky behavior.
- A slightly more in-depth version of decision making that encourages more thought and consideration is to list advantages and disadvantages of change as well as the advantages and disadvantages of staying the same—not changing.
No matter which technique you decide to try, the trick is to make a systematic and informed decision and avoid becoming “stuck in a rut” with your current problems.
- Finally, a basic cognitive technique often applied to decision making is just asking yourself, "What is the worst that could happen?" If there is no significant negative outcome and the possibility of positive change, why not give it a try?
Think it's time to talk to someone? If you’re not sure or think it’s time to consider speaking with a professional, the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center is here for you. Our team includes certified and licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.
To learn more about the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center, visit our Webpage or call 215-914-4190.