How Do I know I Need Counseling?
don’t need counseling” is an excuse many give for not
seeking professional help to deal with emotional or mental
health issues. Others say, “I am not going to tell anybody
about my business” or “Who can tell me about myself better
than myself.” These views have crippled the growth of many
individuals and families over the years.
It is interesting that many would call a plumber,
electrician, or IT specialist to do repairs in their homes
because they do not know what to do. However, they refuse
to call a mental health professional to help them “repair”
the most profound and intricate mechanism in the world—the
brain. Why do we do that to ourselves?
In an article entitled “The Top 10 Reasons People Say No to
Counseling” on the online Counseling Center, the first two
reasons are so true about why people do not seek
professional help. (1) "Receiving counseling is a sign of
weakness." This is a popular excuse in The Bahamas.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage
to address problem areas and examine painful feelings.
Entering counseling is taking the first step in resolving
difficulties.” (2) "People who go to counseling are crazy.
I’m not crazy!"
In The Bahamas this is one of strongest reasons people stay
away from professional counselors. “Some people who receive
counseling feel “sick” in the sense of being unhappy, but
you don't need to be feeling sick or non-functioning to go
into counseling, you just need to be feeling stuck.
Counseling helps when you have tried to address a situation
on your own, but your strategies don't seem to help. Asking
for help is a sign of maturity, self-awareness and
possession of a sense of inner strength.”
There is a little brightness in our country. Over the past
thirty years, I must report that the stigma of going to
professional counseling in The Bahamas has faded a few
notches down. People from all walks of life, races,
nationalities, socio-economic strata of society, are
utilizes the mental resources in The Bahamas.
If you are considering help from a mental health
professional, to whom should you go? Should you go you
pastor or just anybody who promotes him or herself as a
“counselor?” Note that pastors are not trained mental
health professionals. Neither is a teacher, nurse or
carpenter a mental health professional Interestingly,
anyone of these persons and more, can often give wise advice
and guidance that can be life changing. However, note
carefully that a mental health professional has received
years of training and are equipped with tools and skills to
deal with issues of life. Therefore, if you want
professional help, seek someone with at least as master’s
degree in an area in mental health. Persons without a
master’s degree should not be providing professional
counseling because that level of training does not prepare
one to be a mental health clinician.
In The Bahamas, The Bahamas Psychological Association is
working with the Ministry of Health to develop legislation
and policies for the licensing of all levels of mental
health professions. The minimum education requirement to
receive licensure in The Bahamas will be at least a master’s
degree in a mental health area.
A mental health professional offers help in addressing many
situations that cause emotional stress, including, but not
limited to: Adapting to life transitions, Anger management
difficulties, Anxiety, Career change and job stress, Death
of a loved one or friend, Depression, and other mental and
emotional problems and disorders, Eating disorders, Family
and relationship issues, Flirtatious behavior, Gambling
addiction, Intimate partner abuse including spousal rape,
Sexual abuse and domestic violence including rape or
molestation, Sleep disorder, Social and emotional
difficulties related to disability or illness, Substance
abuse and other addictions (Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana,
“Good indicators of when you should seek counseling are when
you are having difficulties at work, your ability to
concentrate is diminished or when your level of pain becomes
uncomfortable,” says Dr. Gail Robinson, past president of
the American Counseling Association. Or you: Spend five to
seven days feeling unhappy. Regularly cannot sleep at night.
Are taking care of a parent or a child and the idea crosses
you mind that you may want to hit that person. Place an
elder in a nursing home or in alternative care. Have lost
someone or something (such as a job. Have a chronic or acute
medical illness. Can no longer prioritize what is most
important in your life. Feel that you can no longer manage
Isn’t it interesting that most of us will go to a medical
doctor annually to check all of our body parts, fluids,
hormones, and functioning? But we do not go to check the
most powerful machine in the body and on earth—the brain.
One need not wait until the “roof falls in” or one would
have spent weeks without sleep or cried out all of your
tears to seek professional help. Mental health
professionals are skillfully trained to guide people through
pathways of life that are often difficult to maneuver.
Call a mental health professional today.
Barrington Brennen is a counseling psychologist and marriage
and family therapist. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or
call 242-327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org