For many, the idea of seeking therapy or counselling can be an intimidating one, especially given that we live in such a conservative society, where receiving such treatments are often considered by many to be taboo. I’ve delved into the stigmatising of therapy and counselling in a previous blog post. If you are interested, do read my blog post, there I clarify that psychotherapy and counselling are not something reserved only for the mentally ill, but for anyone!
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If you’ve clicked on this blog post, then you might be on the fence about receiving therapy and counselling. Firstly, understand that your worries are valid and reasonable. I, too, struggled to seek counselling when I was younger because of how our society has ingrained the “deal with it yourself” mentality within us. However, after much consideration, I finally realised that counselling was something that I needed to relieve myself of the emotional baggage that I was carrying around. It was indeed one of the best decisions I had made because it left me with a renewed sense of self-confidence and motivation in life, which is something that you deserve to experience as well!
Understandably, taking the initiative to seek out therapy and counselling is one that requires courage, which may cause you to be undecided. When I first made that decision, I had to overcome my initial denial that I needed help and muster up the grit to address my issues with what seemed to me at that time to be a complete stranger. Fortunately for me, that complete stranger impacted my life and how I went about with it. I clearly remember feeling a substantial weight lifting off my shoulders. As a result, it helped me in clearing my thinking again. So to aid with that, I’d like to present some signs that may be indicative that therapy and counselling may be something that would benefit you tremendously.
Signs Indicating Need For Therapy And Counselling
1. You Feel Overwhelmed With Emotion.
Feeling overwhelmed could be due to stress, too many things happening at once, or something drastic occurring that has sent your emotions into overdrive, keeping you uneasy and overwhelmed. It’s a familiar feeling, for me, at least, that I’ve experienced being a student trying to juggle the stresses of academia and work at the same time. Being busy would naturally take a toll on anyone, as it did with me, manifesting as frequent emotional breakdowns. I had not granted myself a proper outlet to release my thoughts and feelings healthily, bottling up my emotions that led to the eventual outbursts. Luckily for me, a few counselling sessions helped me healthily internalise my feelings. It helped me to face my issues head-on in a safe and secure place. The courage to face my problems was made possible with proper guidance from a counsellor who was always ready to lend me a much-needed listening ear.
2.You Have Feelings Of Anxiety Frequently.
It’s not a good feeling, no doubt, to feel like you’re always walking on eggshells or jittery and distressed, feeling as though no matter what you do, you can’t seem to catch a break to relax. While fear is a perfectly normal response to a threat or danger, anxiety is an unfounded sense of dread over something vague. Know that anxiety is not something that you face alone. Instead, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is something that 1.6% (as of 2016) of the Singaporean population struggles with daily.
As seen from the image above, this is a growing trend which needs serious consideration. Having a therapist or counsellor with you to aid you in going through these challenging times is essential. Their professional training helps give you unbiased advice and help you face your fears from a different perspective.
3. You Have Difficulty Maintaining Healthy Relationships.
If you are having a hard time maintaining your relationships with friends or loved ones, it may be a sign that there is a bigger problem at hand here. It could potentially be a sign of social withdrawal stemming from specific unresolved emotional issues that you have yet to face. Relationship issues can be detrimental, as more often than not, whether we realise it or not, we may end up pushing those who care for us away, and end up hurting those around us, which is never ideal. Talking to a therapist or counsellor would help ensure that, in the process of addressing your emotional turmoil, anything you may say in the heat of the moment is understood as a defence mechanism by your loved ones. A psychotherapist or counsellor may also be able to provide you with objective insight into your situation without the familial lens, which may be something you need to help you proceed in your recovery.
4. You Are Dealing With Intrusive Thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that you don’t seem to be able to rid off, that can be quite agonising and frustrating. It feels like no matter how much effort you make to distract yourself from taking your mind off the point, it always comes back to haunt you. I, too, had struggled with such thoughts, so I am familiar with the often sleepless nights and daily distractions that were quite distressing. Know that intrusive thoughts are often ego-dystonic, meaning that it is not a true reflection of who you are as a person!
In cases such as these, professional help would be your best option!
If you display any of these signs listed above, perhaps therapy or counselling can be hugely beneficial for you!
Should you remain unconvinced, allow me to share a story from a friend of mine, who stands to testify for the benefits of therapy and counselling, and how it has positively changed her view on life. Having gone through a particularly rough time in school, she sought out psychotherapy because she was always afraid of running into those who inflicted trauma upon her, leading her to avoid certain areas around Singapore. Severe avoidance and anxiety served as a wake-up call for her. It made her realise that therapy was something that she urgently needed to heal from her wounds. After meeting with a few different therapists, she finally found one she felt was best suited to aid her in her issues. Several therapy sessions onwards, she expressed how she could be comfortable with herself once more after a long time. She no longer felt the need to continually bite her tongue and watch her words around others, as she felt free to be herself. She expressed her gratitude towards her therapist to overcome her traumatic experiences and let go of her emotional baggage to carry on feeling much more carefree!
Type Of Treatment
Seeking out therapy and counselling is genuinely not as daunting as it may initially seem, after all, according to the CNA, there are over 60,000 subsidised outpatients that sought treatment every year! The first step in your journey towards a healthy mind is knowing what kind of treatment you require, and who to seek out.
– Psychotherapist: They study psychology and expertly provide psychotherapy (talk therapy) sessions or counselling to clients for issues rooted in emotions and behaviour. It is essential to note the difference between psychotherapy and counselling is often misunderstood to be the same thing! Psychotherapy is a long-term process that strives to pinpoint the root of a person’s issues and find ways to deal with it effectively and target clients who need help regaining control over their personality, mind, emotions and behaviour. On the other hand, counselling is a shorter-term process that aids the client perform their day-to-day activities in a usual manner and targets clients who can problem-solve on their own for the most part. However, they are not permitted to provide medication but can refer clients to psychiatrists if deemed necessary.
– Psychologist: They hold a degree in psychology and are often able to provide psychotherapy (talk therapy) or counselling services. However, they cannot provide medications to treat their clients but can refer them to a psychiatrist if deemed necessary. Many psychotherapists and counsellors have taken their services online, which allows clients to receive help anytime they need it. It eliminates the waiting time required to schedule a face-to-face appointment. Not to mention, online services are often much more affordable!
– Psychotherapist: A psychotherapist is expertly trained to provide psychotherapy services that a longer-term process meant to determine the root cause of the client’s problems and solve it. Their services are targeted towards clients who need help in regaining control over their personality, emotions, mind and behaviour.
– Counsellor: They provide counselling services, that are often a shorter-term process and are meant to aid the client in performing their daily activities effectively, with a focus on the present situation. These services are targeted towards clients who are able to problem-solve on their own for the most part.
– Psychiatrist: Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are medical doctors, licensed to prescribe medication to treat certain mental illnesses, and identify and diagnose patients. Their work involves them considering both the psychological and physical aspects of a psychological problem. They are also best in treating issues that are biological or neurological. Additionally, many psychiatrists are also able to provide psychotherapy services.
After reading this article, I genuinely hope you leave knowing if psychotherapy or counselling is something you wish to seek. Also, I hope you have better information on the types of treatment you can opt to receive. Should you know anyone close to you who you think could benefit from such services, you may now perhaps have a discussion with them about it. Who knows? It may just be a kind act that would significantly benefit them in the future.