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  • Writer's pictureJulie Best

How do I know when it's time to see a counsellor?

Updated: Oct 13, 2022

It’s really common to struggle over the decision whether or not to see a counsellor. It can feel like a really big step. On a bad day you feel like you can’t keep struggling on like this and it’s time to do something about it. Then you have a better day and decide that you’re ok really and you can work it out yourself. But whatever the problem is, it is still there, and in a few days you feel worse again.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to speak to a counsellor?

One helpful way to look at it is to turn the question around - is there a reason not to try speaking to a counsellor? Might it help to talk to someone outside your situation? Could a professional who is trained to listen and see other possibilities help you to feel better sooner? How long do you want to keep struggling on your own?

Many people, whatever the problem, find it is helpful to speak to someone neutral, who is outside the situation, and who will really listen and understand how it feels.

Some clues that suggest that you would benefit from counselling might include:-

  • You’ve been struggling with the same issue for some time. However much you try to manage it on your own it just seems to keep coming back

  • You feel like you can’t talk to anyone; perhaps your friends and family have their own problems and you don’t want to worry them, or perhaps the things they suggest aren’t helping either. Or maybe your friends or family are part of the problem and you don’t know how to discuss it with them without making things worse.

  • Despite your best efforts, things are getting on top of you and affecting your enjoyment of your life, perhaps leading you to feel low in your mood, or to not enjoy the other things in your life. It may be having a negative effect on your work or relationships. The longer you keep struggling on, the worse it gets.

  • You can see a repeating pattern but can’t understand why or how you keep ending up in similar bad situations, whether its the wrong relationship, the wrong job, or feeling that everyone takes from you but no-one gives back.

  • Something bad has happened to you in the past and something recent has brought back feelings of sadness, grief or anger and you’re struggling to move on

  • You’re struggling with relationships - perhaps feeling alone (which can happen whether or not you’re in a relationship), perhaps you are on your own following bereavement, the breakdown of a relationship, or after a move to a new area or the loss of a job. Or it may be that you are struggling within your family, feeling misunderstood or unappreciated, or dealing with constant arguments or bad feelings that no-one will talk about.

  • You are using other things to try to make yourself feel better or dull the pain - these might include drugs or alcohol, comfort eating or avoiding eating, gambling, or shopping for things you don’t need or can’t afford.

Sharing your worries can help you feel less alone with the problem. Someone outside the situation may see solutions that you haven’t though of. A counsellor can help you learn to communicate more clearly and honestly so that it is more likely that your needs will be met.

Choosing to see a counsellor feels like a big step. It means admitting that something is difficult, and telling someone else can make it seem more real. You can’t pretend anymore, or hope that it will just go away on its own. It is also empowering. Just taking the first step of arranging an appointment with a counsellor can bring some relief. You know you are doing something active to change your situation. You have someone else on your side to help you. Things are going to get better.

how do I know when it's time to see a counsellor


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