How To Know If You Could Benefit From Seeing A Counselor or Therapist
By Veronica Sites, Crisis Counselor, Life Coach
Much like the way we communicate using words, our bodies have levels of communication that beckon us to awareness of body’s early warning system.
The body is dynamically created to heal and receive healing. It systematically operates and adapts to the world in which it lives and breaths. For some, that is strong healthy conditions, while for others it is more challenging. When operating at full and healthy capacity, it receives restorative sleep, thinks clearly, and is physically refreshed through exercise, hydration and good nutrition, which includes the mental diet.
As the central operating system, the brain works much like a “early warning and response system” or an emergency response center. The Emergency Management System (EMS) is a good analogy since most of us know how
of ‘911’ works.
There is an early warning system which alerts another on standby, while all systems prepare for response: survival, fight, or flight mode. Simultaneously a vast amount of differing enzymes, proteins, hormones and other chemicals flood the body, starting with the brain, to adapt to increasng levels of stress. The body goes into survival mode. When survival becomes the primary mode of operation, the body adapts to conditions that may be dealt with, ignored, or denied. How an individual handles the reality of impact to himself, impacts his life and health.
By design, the brain sends signals and directs the body to manifest signs that once recognized serve us well in health and wellness. The problem is that most people do not know how to understand “body talk.” There are 5 areas of functionality through which the body can send out a “cry for help”, but all too often, what is attributed as distraction or stress is actually the brain sending signals as the operation system of the body, if left unattended, will interrupt good health. The brain balances psychological health.
Historically, mental health leaves many people concerned about the “bad press” of mental illness. Far too many people neglect care for fear of the social stigma and cost to them personally in reputation and social status.
The mention of mental illness all too often results in damaging remarks atthe cost of someone suffering in silence. I am a huge advocate in education and a need to turn attention to mental wellness and what can be done to prevent mental illness such as situational depression.
Maintaining mental wellness is akin to appreciating the value of good dental health. No one likes going to the dentist, but we like the result of aligned teeth, great smiles, and absence of cavities.
The distinction between counselor and therapist is the method of treatment, ability to perform tests, prescribed medication, and access to inpatient or outpatient facilities.. Not all help needed requires a therapist, medications or brain scans.
For many people medication is not the end-all solution. Often, working with a counselor to gain skills to work through challenges that cause the problems impacting your personal health is the place to start.
5 signs that someone should see a therapist
- How are you sleeping? Do you having nightmares, eel fatigued or wake up tired, as if you had little to no rest at all? It is natural for the body to send signals that we should all recognize.
The body’s way of sending out a “cry for help” can show up in various ways often ignored in the name of distraction or stress. These are physical performance indicators that may be your body sending up a white flag that “top performance” has left the building. Seeing a counselor is painless and can be reassuring, and evaluate if a therapist should be considered due to manifestations in thoughts, feelings/emotions, body reactions, and the result of how you manage stress.
Often, an excess of tears is the body’s way of trying to decompress. Seeing a counselor is a safe
place to decompress and address what I call “emotional constipation.” Compressed emotions
- Do you struggle to remain focused or have impaired thinking? Have you become hyper vigilant to help others rather than address what is going on personally? Do you blame others for how you feel? These are mental indicators that the brain chemistry is changed and not operating optimally. An individual’s capacity to perform is impacted by how much has been managed, ignored, stored, or neglected over time. Mental wellness requires maintenance.
- Do you become physically impacted by anxiety or overwhelmed by emotions? Are you easily agitated, becoming intensely or suddenly angry? It is quite likely the emotional circuitry of brain signals are being ignored much like a warning light on the dashboard of a car. Think of the maintenance it takes to keep a car running. Seeing a counselor greatly benefits the mind and body. You are human and worth the investment of “checking under the hood” from time to time. Why wait until something quits working properly to seek help? Self care is much kinder to yourself and others than a sudden derailment of mental illness which could be prevented. Depression can be situational and quite manageable with counseling and personal development.
- Do you experience emotional outbursts? Have you experienced increased or decreased sexual activity? Are you withdrawn from others or suspicious about situations, things, or people? Behavioral changes are often spotted by others and denied by the one impacted. Be honest with what you know of yourself and consider others commented concerning changes they observe. Behavioral changes can mean a lot of things. Where you initially seek care will make a difference in the recommended course of care. A counselor will empower you to cope and manage differently. A therapist may order blood work or other tests to determine chemical levels to address more acutely issues depending on the level of disruptive symptoms . A medical doctor may refer to a therapist or prescribe meds that will subdue symptoms. The key in self care is determining the results you want and what course of treatment that will be most beneficial long term. Medication without counseling treats symptoms. Eventually the best long term care empowers you to recognize what is happening and how to respond to impact good mental health.
- Do you question your beliefs, have a (sudden or subtle) loss of purpose, feel anger with clergy, or withdrawn from your place of worship? Questions about beliefs are especially common in times of struggle. Regardless of what you believe, humans are physical, feeling, and spiritual beings. Counseling will vary most in this area of care. The kind of counsel you seek is personal conviction. It may take a few tries to find a good fit. It is best to work with a counselor that knows your goal of care and the foundation of your beliefs, otherwise this critical area of care is addressed completely scientifically and will miss a critical part of what and why things are out of balance.
Embarrassed to admit you might need a therapist?
There is no shame in seeking help with mental health. For too long, stigma and stereotypes such as “crazy, psycho, nuts” keep people in need from seeking self care. The tragedy is that regular maintenance, like taking a bath, keeps things from getting to the point of “stinking thinking.” Just as a good bath or shower rids the body of odor, mental wellness contributes to a beautiful mind.
My mentor, Zig Ziglar, was a huge proponent of “getting a check up from the neck up” to prevent “stinking thinking”. The cost of ignoring mental health is too high. Far too many lives end in suicide and even survivors of attempted suicide struggle to break free from the imposed stress of society’s stigma stemming from ignorance. The truth is no one can know what they do not know and realistic expectations are necessary to turn the tide from fear of mental illness to valuing the benefit of mental wellness and maintenance. Like dental health, it takes wellness checkups to prevent mental decay.
Therapy is more common than we imagine. There is a tremendous need to break the silence of invisible wounds and let the world know the cost which ignorance, fear, and neglect has plagued humanity with too long. Suicide is the painstaking manifestation of where stigma has led. Hurt people hurt people. It is time that free people free people with brave examples of mental wellness. Self care is not a crime. Neglect is a crime, and breaks every law of human survival as the body cries for help.
Veronica Sites, Crisis Counselor, Life Coach