One of the most important questions I ask when someone comes in to see me is, “why now?” The answer not only allows me to understand what is going on in someone’s life, but has helped me realize there are specific reasons why people decide it is time to get the help of a professional counsellor. Below I’ve summarized the 7 signs that you may be ready to do the same.
1. You are experiencing a major life change
Periods of transition, such as a change in relationship status, career or work, or a significant loss, can create a lot of stress and be hard to navigate. Sometimes talking about it can allow a person to gain perspective and take necessary steps. If the change hasn’t happened yet, but is on the horizon, preventative counselling can also help smooth the transition.
2. You are craving unbiased feedback
Before coming to a counsellor, often clients will have already sought advice from friends and family. This is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not. It can be beneficial to work through a particular issue in an unbiased setting, in order to gain a new perspective and consider other options that you otherwise may not have. Good counselling will focus on helping you to achieve your goals.
3. You are tired of struggling alone
Maybe you have done just fine on your own up until this point. However sometimes a longstanding issue that never seems to be resolved eventually takes its toll, resulting in burnout, apathy, sleep and health problems, depression, or self-esteem issues, to name a few. Counselling can help you to address these in a collaborative way.
4. You feel out of control or overwhelmed by your emotions
If your emotions are getting the best of you, to the point that you can’t sort through what they mean or they are interfering in relationships or work, therapy might be of use. Talking it out in a safe space can help you sort through the overwhelming flurry of emotions that we all experience and help you use them to your advantage.
5. You find yourself repeating self-destructive patterns
Anything that is pushing you further away from leading a life based on what you value, I would consider to be self-destructive. It can include everything from overworking or underworking, not taking care of yourself physically, procrastination, overdoing the drugs and alcohol, or hurting the people who care about you (often the people who may be trying to help). If any of these sound familiar and are becoming a problem, you may be ready for some honest feedback.
6. You want to understand yourself better
Sometimes people come to see me simply to get to know themselves better – their beliefs, values, behaviour patterns, strengths, and areas they would like to improve. This is very courageous and an act in self-care. By being willing to explore parts of yourself that you do not fully understand (or have been trying to ignore), individuals can begin the process of change. Counselling can help you to take an honest look at yourself, allowing you to set clearer goals, enhance relationships, and feel more confident about life choices.
7. You don’t feel like yourself
This one is a bit harder to spot, as it usually happens gradually. You may feel that nothing major is ‘wrong’, but rather feel stuck, or like you’re just not where you want to be. Maybe you’ve been in an unstimulating job or relationship for too long, or you’ve found yourself connected to friends who don’t share the same values or interests. Or maybe someone in your life has asked you what’s going on. In any case, counselling can help get you back on track by first helping you figure out what you want, and then mobilize you to start making changes.