"Me, Need Therapy?"
Many of my clients come to me with a similar introduction: "I think I might need counseling but I don't know for sure." Often a loved one has told them they would benefit from talking to someone. Other times my clients have a low-level feeling of unease; a feeling that things "just aren't right." Some clients are struggling with a life transition or have recently had a loss that they are trying to process. In their mind, their overall functioning is still fine, so they think to themselves, "I don't need counseling. I'll just wait until it gets really bad."
Sometimes potential clients struggle with the thought of pursuing counseling because in their mind, therapy is reserved for the people who are "crazy" and really need it. When thinking about someone who needs counseling, images of veterans struggling with PTSD symptoms that hit the floor when they hear fireworks or people struggling with suicidal ideation come to mind. In reality, however, anyone can benefit from counseling. Therapists deal with a wide berth of issues with clients. Nothing is too "small" to be explored with the help of a professional. Clients often benefit from starting counseling before they hit rock bottom, because they are able to prevent things from getting much worse by learning coping skills to deal with the issue. There is strength in seeking help, and sometimes you just need a little bit of help to reach your optimal level of functioning. Learning coping skills and processing past events can occur at many stages of growth.
Sometimes clients share that they have a loved one that would benefit from counseling, but they are hesitant to reach out to that person. A simple statement such as, "I see you are struggling; have you ever considered talking with someone to help you sort through things?" If you've gotten help from a counselor in the past, and depending on your comfort level with the person, you can share the benefits you've gained through counseling. It's important to approach the person from a state of caring and concern, rather than attack or criticism.
Stigma concerning getting help for mental health can often prevent people from getting the help they need. Being open to talking about your experiences in therapy and normalizing the conversation can go a long way to help others feel comfortable both with the idea of seeing counseling as a viable option for them and people they love that may need help.