When should I start counseling?
Have you ever found yourself asking this question? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common question that I have been asked over the years. So, let’s take a deeper look at this question.
What if I were to remove the word “counseling” from that question and replace it with “caring for myself” or “prioritizing my mental health” or even “proactively maintenance my well-being”. If we were to replace any of these phrases into the question, I’m sure we would all have similar answers- now.
It seems to be general knowledge that if and when we experience symptoms of physical health, we go to the doctor for treatment. We even make follow up appointments for preventative and maintenance treatment. The very same concept should be true when we are talking about our mental health.
Imagine for a moment that you have a tooth that has been bothering you. The pain started off as uncomfortable, something that you thought about occasionally throughout the day, but overall, it’s manageable. Months have gone by, and the pain grew. Now you cannot chew on the side of your mouth that hurts. You now avoid eating certain foods because of the pain. You kept putting your concerns off, thinking it would go away eventually or you didn’t think of it as a priority. Now your tooth needs major dental work that will take months to fix, thousands of dollars to treat, and lots of physical and mental discomfort.
If I was to ask the question, “when should I have seen a dentist?”, I would imagine most of us would have said something along the lines of, “shortly after you began noticing pain”. Which I would agree with. However, even better, maybe some of you are thinking, “before there was ever a problem”. Perhaps if this individual was keeping proper maintenance, the problem could have been caught early or early intervention could have prevented a larger problem from occurring.
Now, take this scenario and apply it to counseling. We regularly see doctors and specialists to maintenance and treat our physical health symptoms. The same should be true regarding our mental health. Our brain is the organ responsible for our decision making, feelings, reasoning, etc. Whether everything seems to be going well in life and you desire to maintain your wellbeing, or you are in crisis and struggling to get by each day, now is the time to take action in maintaining or treating the overall well-being of your mental health. The sooner you start investing in yourself, your relationships, and your overall well-being, the better prepared you will be to thrive!