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Do I Really Need Counseling?

Are my problems serious enough to see a professional? Aren’t I just dealing with ‘normal’ life issues? If you have wondered if your problems ‘qualify’ for getting help, below are some basic guidelines to help you know when to seek out and visit a counselor.

One of the things we at Cherry Hill explore in the initial counseling session is a brief history. There are several things we are looking for and perhaps foremost among them is any change in baseline functioning. Most people are pretty consistent in their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. When there is a departure or change from this baseline, it may be time for further exploration.

Some of these changes may be fairly benign, but even minor changes can lead to further problems – relationally, vocationally, spiritually, etc. If you or a loved one has experienced any change in baseline functioning or change fromyour normal, it may be time to seek help from a professional counselor. If you’re having trouble deciding what your baseline is or what your normal is, consider this definition: “Normal – the ability to love and work effectively.”  It’s about your ability to love and work effectively; professional counseling can be about your quality of life as much as it can be about treatment of a serious mental illness.

Consider a brief self-evaluation in the following areas of your life:

  1. Marriage / Romantic – spouse/partner
  2. Family – parent, child, sibling, in-laws, etc.
  3. Vocation / Profession
  4. Social Life and Relationships
  5. Education/Academic
  6. Physical Well Being – diet, exercise, etc.
  7. Spiritual – beliefs, behaviors, belonging, etc.

If you or your loved one are simply stuck or experiencing distress in one or more of these areas, we can help. It takes courage to make the initial phone call, to make the first appointment, and come to the first session.  But after the initial anxiety, the vast majority of our clients see the benefit and return for further sessions. For new clients, each return visit typically becomes less scary and more helpful.

For some people, the need for professional attention and evaluation is greater if serious mental health problems exist.If you or a loved one have suicidal thoughts, attempts and/or violent or homicidal thoughts or actions, these require immediate attention!

The American Psychiatric Association provides a list of more serious warning signs and symptoms indicating a need for assessment by a professional.  One symptom on the list doesn’t necessarily predict a mental illness, however,anyone experiencing one or more of these symptoms can benefit from a consultation with a mental health professional. The more symptoms present, the greater and more immediate the need for evaluation. Research has shown that early intervention can often prevent a first psychotic episode and/or a hospitalization.

Does anything mentioned here resonate with you or someone you love?  Maybe it’s time to seek out counseling.

Rick Coffaro, LPC

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Rick Coffaro, MA, LPC

Rick Coffaro’s work experience prior to Cherry Hill includes twenty-eight years in sales, marketing, and management. The theme of his career was making, building and maintaining relationships. Rick offers first-hand knowledge of life and career transitions. He enjoys working with individuals, couples, adults, adolescents and young adults, and groups.

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