In todays world of high exposure and constant access to self and group analysis through virtual social networking many people report feeling confused and unsure of themselves and if their reactions to relationships or life in general are similar to others. It is often a very private matter to analyze the self and achieve a level of self confidence and assurance that is associated with peace of mind and good mental health.
To further complicate things the personal opinions of a best friend, spouse, or family member may not seem unbiased enough to rely on. With all this to consider, one may wonder if they should seek help or guidance from a licensed professional counselor or psychologist.
Instinctively, most individuals will initially attempt to manage their problems on their own. If a problem persists or becomes too complex, family, friends or peers are a second line of consultation. It is true that a sympathetic listener helps. However, some problems need more than just a good ear to fall on. Life is challenging and often requires insightful decision making and awareness based on well established strategies and coping skills. From this perspective, any problem is appropriate for discussion in a professional setting.
In the distant past, most individuals held the belief that a person had to be crazy, or severely out of control to need professional mental health services. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, psychotropic medications were introduced to the mental health field making alternatives for mental treatment accessible to more individuals. In the last fifteen to twenty years, even more advancements have been made in the area of neurological functioning and the human ability to control emotions and behavioral reactions to the environment. This advancement in the mental health field has made professional counselors and psychologists very valuable in areas of individual functioning, family dynamics, cooperate restructuring, forensic profiling, and supportive treatment to individuals from all walks of life. It is not uncommon for a mental health professional in private practice to provide services to cooperate administrators dealing with complex dynamics of the work place in one setting and to a young couple raising their first child in the their first home in another setting.
In other words, the human reaction to stress is the same in any setting making mental health treatment appropriate for anyone. Mental health treatment for many professionals has turned into mental health education.
How to find the right mental health professional.
When seeking professional help, the most important task to select an individual with the credentials and experience required by the licensing boards of that profession. For example, in Ohio a clinical psychologist (PhD) is required to meet the expectations established by the American Psychological Association. A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) is required to meet the expectations established by the Marriage and Family Counselor and Social Workers Board.
All professionals are required to make their credentials available to the general public. This is formally achieved through national and state data base archives that list every licensed individual. To research this data base, an individual would simply do a search on the web, or contact the local mental health boards in their area. Informally, many mental health professionals can be found through a direct referral from their family doctor, advertising in local phone books, and marketing efforts in health related establishments.
In any case, current attitudes towards mental health are changing. Because we all are essentially influenced by our mental functioning, there is no problem too big or too small for professional counseling. In fact the current social trend suggests that it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about mental health and ways to achieve good mental health. Many cooperations, universities, and social positions require that applicants meet with a mental health professional before they are considered for hire.
On the personal side, many individuals choose to meet with a mental health professional before they enter into a marriage or other long term relationship. Some choose to maintain a relationship with a counselor simply to have a professional consultant to discuss issues with even if they are doing well to manage the issues on their own.
In considering all of the points in this discussion, a final thought to consider is the distinction between needing something and benefiting from something. If you are unsure about any problem causing mild to moderate stress in your life, you may not need to seek professional help, but may greatly benefit from it by shortening the amount of time you spend on an issue and preventing a small problem from turning into a life changing one.