How do I know if I need to go to therapy? There are signs that may suggest that meeting with a professional could help. A licensed therapist can help provide a different perspective about your situation, as well as assess to see if the symptoms you are experiencing are clinical, meaning it may involve an acute or preexisting chemical imbalance that may require prescribing medication to stabilize symptoms such as anxiety or Bipolar. One indication is that whatever is causing distress is affecting more than one area of your life. For instance, issues within a relationship cause you to lose focus on your job and affect your work performance or you’re beginning to develop unhealthy habit(s) to numb the emotional/mental pain you’re experiencing. Lastly, if those around you are suggesting that you seek professional help, because they are observing how your behavior is becoming self-destructive, even when you attempt to isolate yourself so no one will notice, it’s time to seek professional guidance.
How do I tell my family members that I want to go to therapy without alarming them? Often when we tell those we consider our support system that we want to seek professional services, they question themselves and ask if they are the cause for your distress or problem. For that reason, consider leading by telling your family members or your support system that you’re grateful for the help and support they have provided thus far and in addition to their support you would like to talk to a professional - someone who can be objective- about the situation that is causing you to experience anguish.
How do I convince someone that I am concerned about to go to therapy? This is a common and tough question, because if not legally mandated or required by their employer to attend counseling, it’s difficult to convince anyone that they need to go to therapy, even if an ultimatum is given. Usually, the person seemingly in need of therapy will consider participating in counseling if the person(s) proposing that they go participates with them for either support or they believe they’re not the problem. I tell clients that whoever initiated the call to seek counseling is the leader to model the change they desire to see in the person needing help. However, if the person is not convinced to attend therapy, then counseling can always serve as a form of self-care for the person proposing therapy as they strengthen their skills to manage the identified stressors in their life.
Is there anyone you can’t help? Why? If or when a person is being forced to participate in counseling that they don’t want to attend, then the treatment will be ineffective. Until an individual is willing to acknowledge their problems, the healing remains nonexistent or is delayed. Also, counseling requires participants to be stable, so for instance if a person is experiencing psychotic symptoms or is inebriated the symptoms must first be stabilized within an intensive treatment setting, which would require 24-hour observation and medication monitoring, before attempting to engage in psychotherapy counseling.
How can I manage work stress, and create a healthy work-life balance? There is a quote by a celebrity that I agree with that says, “You can have your cake and eat it too, just not all in one sitting.” Many times, we are attempting to complete too many things all at the same time, which causes us to experience stress. It’s important to understand that life can change suddenly, and those things that were once on the forefront of your mind are now at the back; so, it helps to be realistic about what you can accomplish in a reasonable time, and to be flexible to changes. Sometimes the things or situations we’re attempting to manage may no longer require the same attention previously given, such as parenting a child at age six versus when they are age 21. Consider taking an emotional inventory. Think about what you love, like, and what you tolerate. Then, think about what could be eliminated from your life (this may include a negative habit such as worrying) and take the time to prioritize the needs you identified accordingly to achieve a work-balanced life.
How do I maintain a healthy marital relationship with my spouse? What are the tenets of a healthy romantic partnership? Continually, (consider every anniversary or sooner) ask each other what does respecting/loving the other looks like? For example, if your spouse does not like it when you mention how they do something in front of others, but you think it funny and harmless, then refraining from doing so would be a matter of being considerate and respecting your spouse. The feeling of love may not always be apparent, but the act of love should always be evident because it requires focusing on the commitment to support each other even after the initial “butterflies in the stomach” emotions have waned. When communicating (verbally and/or nonverbally) and you are not sure of the other’s intentions, ask to clarify, instead of becoming defensive. Lack of perception or not being understood by the other is usually the root of what causes the dissolvement of most marriages. (*Note: If either of the spouses is in active addiction and/or have an untreated mental illness, these symptoms must be stabilized first before addressing other marital concerns).
How do you help to care for ailing parents who don’t want your help? When there’s role reversal and the adult child becomes the caretaker to their aging and/or ailing parents, it takes a toll on both. The ailing parent’s refusal for help usually stems from their coming to terms with the reality of their illness as well as acknowledging their child as the guardian managing their care. So, consider offering your assistance to help improve their quality of living, which may involve seeking health services that offer in-home care, and allow your parents to offer instructions of how they would like to be helped. It is also important to remember that the progression of your parent’s illness may influence their cognitive abilities and mood. At that point, the parent may be unable to make competent decisions about their care, in which case if not already documented, legal consultation is encouraged.