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A Self-diagnosing Guide to Counseling and Therapy.

While you might realize that psychotherapy can help with life’s problems, it can sometimes be difficult to seek help or to even recognize when it is time to talk to a professional.

One key thing to remember is that the sooner you seek assistance, the sooner you will start to experience relief. Instead of waiting until your symptoms get out of control, you should consider getting help as soon as you start to recognize that there might be a problem.

Some key signs that it might be time to see a psychotherapist include:

  • The issue is causing significant distress or disruption in your life. If you feel that the problem you are facing interrupts a number of important areas of your life including school, work, and relationships, it may be time to see if psychotherapy can help.
  • You are relying on unhealthy or dangerous coping mechanisms. If you find yourself dealing with your problem by smoking, drinking, overeating, or taking out your frustrations on others, seeking assistance can help you find healthier and more beneficial coping strategies.
  • Friends and family are concerned about your well-being. If it has reached a point where other people are worried about your emotional health, it may be time to see if psychotherapy can improve your psychological state.
  • Nothing you have tried so far has helped. You’ve read self-help books, explored some techniques you read about online, or even tried just ignoring the problem, yet things just seem to be staying the same or even getting worse. Just remember that you don’t have to wait until your problems become so overwhelming that coping seems impossible. Help is available and the sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll be back on track to a healthier, happier state of mind.

Choosing a Therapeutic Technique and Therapist

If you feel that you have a problem that might benefit from psychotherapy, your first step might be to discuss your concerns with your primary care physician. Your doctor may begin by first ruling out any physical diseases that might be contributing to your symptoms. If no other cause can be found, your doctor may then refer you to a mental health professional that is qualified to diagnose and treat the symptoms you are experiencing.
Your symptoms often play a role in the type of treatment and type of therapist you choose. If your doctor suspects that you are experiencing problems that might require the use of prescription medications in addition to psychotherapy, he or she may refer you to a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medications and has specific training in the treatment of psychological and psychiatric conditions.

If your symptoms suggest that you might benefit from some form of talk therapy without the addition of prescription drugs, you may be referred to a clinical psychologist or counselor.

Referrals from friends and family members can also be a great way to find a therapist who can help you address your concerns. Psychotherapy is very much both an art and a science, however. If things do not seem to be working, or you just don’t seem to “click” with your current therapist, do not be afraid to seek out other professionals until you find someone with whom you can connect.

As you evaluate any psychotherapist, consider some of the following questions:

  • Does the therapist seem professional and qualified?
  • Do you feel comfortable sharing your feelings and experiences?
  • Do you like the therapist’s conversational style?
  • Are you satisfied with the extent of your interaction with the therapist?
  • Does he or she seem to understand what you are feeling?