Here’s a secret that every counsellor wants you to know. The best time to seek counselling is: Now. As soon as you possibly can. And especially before things get really bad.
So, from the very first moment you have a feeling, or a half-formed fleeting thought that something’s not right, don’t delay. Find a counsellor. Take a look at the therapists in your area, select someone you like the look of and arrange an appointment. This is when it will be easiest for you to explore your feelings, spot patterns and make changes.
Why hesitate to get help for your mental wellbeing?
So what stops people from taking such a simple first step? Well, something I hear repeatedly is that it feels self indulgent, decadent and almost selfish to attend counselling if not in crisis. Let’s break this down, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. Like most things in life prevention is better than cure. And the best time to seek counselling is before you’re on the edge and about to explode. Unsurprisingly, a tsunami of previously concealed grievances suddenly erupting is likely to do some damage to yourself and others. But recognising your feelings, and acting on them before they become overwhelming, is real self-care. In the truest sense of the word.
According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, studies have shown that early access to appropriate care and treatment makes a complete recovery from mental health challenges more likely.
“Early intervention can save a person and their loved ones from stress, prevent more serious symptoms from developing, and reduce the likelihood of problems with work, family, school and substance use. Plus, it could help reduce medical costs and the overall burden on friends and family members.”
Although counsellors can, and will, happily work with you in the middle of chaos and crisis, this isn’t the optimum time to be in treatment. Post eruption counselling sessions may be focused on repairing ruptured relationships, dealing with feelings of shame and managing the practical challenges that often occur after a meltdown.
So, if you’re low-level struggling but not wanting to make a fuss, feel secretly grateful that your frantic life leaves you ‘no time for feelings’, or are only aware you’re unhappy at 5am…then I urge you to consider counselling. You may need it more than most.
If you’re new to therapy, then I’ve put together these helpful counselling FAQs. Hopefully, they’ll put your mind at rest, and prepare you for the next step.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the best time to seek counselling, especially if you feel you left it too late. Please comment below.