By: Anna Passyn, LPC
Often it is hard to know when to ask for help. If I just “muscle through” will it be okay? Can I ignore the situation long enough for it to go away? Or avoid it? Sometimes the answer to those questions is a “yes” and holding on or pushing forward or getting out of the way is sufficient to be on the other side of the problem; sometimes, though, the answer is a resounding “NO!” and the presenting issue requires something different.
Here are some typical situations that benefit from the expertise of a good therapist:
Bad/Old Habits – often we adopt, or form, habits in response to something that is happening. It is our attempt to cope with an issue or problem. Some of these habits benefit us in the short term and in the long run, like meditation or exercise; others may feel like a benefit in the short term, but in the long run create their own problems that need attention. There are habits that readily come to mind – smoking, drinking alcohol – and habits that are, perhaps, not as noticeable, like self- isolating and avoidance. Any habit that limits your ability to live a life you value is a habit worth reexamining.
Old Wounds – past a certain age, we have all experienced loss, grief, disappointment, betrayal; these are just part of the human experience. For many, these experiences are “sticky” – they don’t seem to fade in intensity with time or reflection. They are, repeatedly and over time, jarring and upsetting, prompting an emotional reaction that is similar to the emotional reaction when the experience actually happened. Learning how to have that memory without it being overwhelming will help put that memory in the context of a whole, full life.
Out of Balance – things are moving along. Work, home, family, are all being cared for. Then something happens – someone gets ill or the boss retires or the basement floods (or there’s a PANDEMIC). Or maybe nothing happens and there is a slip into something that is not so beneficial or away from something that is. When looking back, identifying the catalyst may be possible, but even if it’s not, if current life feels upside down and righting it seems like a heavy lift, getting input from the outside may be beneficial.
Transitions – going to… a new school, college, a new home; or leaving…a marriage, an identity, an old job: big changes can feel overwhelming, inviting self-doubt, second guessing and fears about what is to come and what was left behind. Even those who “like change” (and, honestly, how many people say that?) can be bowled over by the wave of emotion connected to big transitions. It may be worth investing some time and energy into discovering how to step through it, think through it and feel confident in your ability to manage the change well.