Mental Health is "a state of mind characterized by emotional well-being, good behavioral adjustment, relative freedom from anxiety and disabling symptoms, and a capacity to establish constructive relationships and cope with the ordinary demands and stresses of life."
At some point in our lives, we all could benefit from consulting and collaborating with mental health professionals. Even if you believe there is no way a stranger could understand or appreciate what you are going through. According to data from World Health Organization, in 2019, 1 in every 8 people worldwide was living with a mental disorder. Since the pandemic in 2020, there has been an estimated 25% increase in people living with depressive or anxiety disorders.
The counselor will listen, assess, develop a therapeutic alliance, offer guidance, and work collaboratively with you. The work between you and the therapist is to meet your goals for seeking therapy. The therapeutic work is directed towards discovering improved ways to meet your specific needs for personal growth.
To this end, the therapist will attempt to understand and, at times, challenge you in a non-critical way to examine how you think and what you are doing to improve your current situation. It is also important to note that not all therapists will be concerned with your past. Instead, they will focus more on your everyday and current functioning. That said, it does not mean you will be shut down if you want to discuss an event from your past.
Seeking mental health counseling does not have to mean you have a diagnosed mental illness. We have several life experiences that psychologically affect us mildly, moderately, or severely. As you might imagine, some experiences result in minor inconveniences, and you recover quickly from them. Therefore, your daily functioning is not significantly impaired. Then there are those experiences that seem to linger on for an eternity. So, though you endeavor to move on, it just seems impossible.
You should consider seeking therapy if:
You are consistently trauma-dumping.
You have lost control of your alcohol consumption and now drinking more than intended to get the desired effect. You have tried to stop drinking because of the negative consequences. Still, even the repercussions are not enough for you to stop.
You are misusing your prescription drugs or seeking and using illegal drugs.
You are struggling with intrusive thoughts that affect your functioning, for example, after a car accident, losing a loved one, or struggling to come to terms with your life situations.
You have become withdrawn, isolated, and lonely.
You are in an abusive relationship.
Unhealthy eating habits (overeating, undereating, binging, and purging)
You tend to catastrophize (see only the worst in everything)
You have recurrent angry outbursts that do not match the situation.
Depressed mood lasting more than two weeks
Stress, anxiety, interpersonal conflicts
I do not mean to imply with the examples above that counseling only applies when dealing with significant life challenges. It is because we typically seek help when things are not going well. For example, therapy is helpful for those who do not have impaired functioning but need a mental tune-up or objective feedback.
It is true a therapist cannot "fix you." However, working with a therapist is an excellent opportunity to rediscover your sense of self and purpose as you learn to cope well with everyday life. Therapy is ineffective when you are not actively participating in your care.
Stay Naturally Curious