Is counselling for me?

Below are some examples of the types of mental health concerns that counselling can help resolve.  Click on the subject for a more detailed description.   These are only a few examples, people come to counselling for a wide variety of concerns, if you don't see your concern listed, contact us for more information. 

Abuse (Physical, Sexual, Emotional, and/or Neglect)
Addiction
Anger Management
Anxiety, Stress, Panic
Bipolar Disorder
Bullying
Depression
Emotion Regulation
Grief
Life Transitions
Parenting Concerns
Relationship Conflicts
Self Esteem
Suicide
Trauma

Childhood Abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child abuse and child maltreatment as "all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power."

Emotional or Psychological

The American Psychological Association defines emotional abuse as "non-accidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child's parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child."

Long term effects of emotional/psychological abuse can include (but are not limited to):

  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Low-self esteem
  • Emotional instability 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Physical pain without cause
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Dependence on the abuser
  • Underachievement
  • Inability to trust
  • Feeling trapped and alone
  • Addictions and substance use
  • Attachment issues
  • Self-blame
  • Passivity 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Physical

The WHO defines physical abuse as the "intentional use of physical force against the child that results in – or has a high likelihood of resulting in – harm for the child's health, survival, development or dignity. This includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing."

Psychological and emotional effects of physical abuse can include (but are not limited to):

  • Eating disorders
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Re-victimization
  • Personality Disorders
  • Excessive hostility or aggression that effects ability to connect with others
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy/tired
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Addictions and substance use
  • Homelessness 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Sexual

Childhood sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older adolescent forces the child to engage in sexual stimulation.  This can include asking or pressuring the child to engage in sexual contact with the child, exposing genitals to child, forcing child to watch pornography, viewing or touching child's genitals, or producing child pornography. 

The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can include (but are not limited to): 

  • Guilt
  • Self-blame
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic pain
  • Addiction or Substance use
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Borderline Personality
  • Eating disorders 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Neglect

Childhood neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to supply basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, emotional support, and eduction to the degree that the child's health, safety, or well-being may be harmed.

The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse can include (but are not limited to): 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Academic problems
  • Withdrawing
  • Flashbacks
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Sleep disturbances 

These and other concerns can be addressed in therapy.

Addictions

Did you know that a person can become addicted to nearly anything that affects the neurotransmitters in the brain. The pleasurable feelings associated with the release of dopamine and serotonin can result in the misuse of a substance or obsessive behaviour.

How can you tell if you have an addiction to a substance or behaviour?

There are a few warning signs that might indicate an addiction:

  • Do you find yourself missing out on important things such as school or work in order to use?
  • When you are not engaging in the behaviour are you constantly thinking about when you will next be able to do it?
  • Have you tried to stop or cut back and been unsuccessful?
  • Have other people in your life expressed concern over your behaviour?
  • Are you missing out on social events and connecting with other important people in your life?
  • Is this behaviour becoming the central focus of your life?

If you answer yes to one or more of these, it can be a good idea to speak with somebody to help understand what is going on and help you re-arrange your priorities.  

Anger Management


Anger is a healthy emotion that lets us know that something in our environment is threatening or distressing.  Feeling angry indicates that we need to protect ourselves from something.   When you get angry your heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, and your hormones are affected.

While anger is healthy, some people struggle to express and manage their anger safely.  The main approaches to managing anger include expressing, suppressing, and calming.   Working with a therapist can help you learn how to express your anger safely by identifying the causes and learning calming techniques to help you feel more in control.

It is important to learn how to express your anger because unexpressed anger can cause other problems, particularly in interpersonal relationships.  A therapist can help you learn the difference between asserting your needs and being aggressive.   

Anxiety

According to the APA, "Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure."

Features of anxiety are:

  • Recurring, intrusive thoughts or concerns
  • Avoiding situations that cause anxiety
  • Sweating, trembling, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat

Anxiety can take many different forms such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, and panic disorders. 

Generalized Anxiety

Generalized anxiety is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable, irrational worry about events or activities.  This worry impedes daily functioning as individuals are constantly looking for disasters.

Common concerns include:

  • Health
  • Money
  • Death
  • Relationship issues
  • Work Difficulties

There are physical symptoms associated with generalized anxiety such as fatigue, headaches, numbness, fidgeting, muscle tension, digestive issues, difficulty breathing, insomnia, rashes, difficulty concentrating, sweating, and restlessness. 

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is characterized by intense fear in one or more social settings.  These fears are often triggered by worry about being judged by others.  People with social anxiety often avoid social situations, struggle in large crowds or unknown groups, avoid public speaking, and tend to intensely worry and obsess over something they say that may have violated social expectations. 

Phobias

Phobias are intense and persistent fear of an object or situation.  Individual's with phobias will go to extreme lengths to avoid what they are afraid of even though they are not in any physical danger from the object.  Exposure to the phobic object often leads to panic attack.  

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear with some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen

Panic attacks typically last for about 30 minutes but can go on for much longer.  Even though the effects are frightening, panic attacks themselves are not dangerous. 

Concerns relating to anxiety can be treated effectively with therapy.  Success rates improve when used in conjunction with medication.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of depression and periods of elevated mood (mania).

Mania is characterized by:

  • High energy
  • Extreme happiness,
  • Feeling irritable
  • Poor decision making
  • Not thinking through the consequences
  • Reduced need for sleep

Depression is characterized by

  • Crying
  • Negative outlook on life
  • Poor eye contact
  • Suicidal thoughts.

 People often look for help when they are feeling depressed which results in misdiagnosis.  

Bipolar disorder can be effectively treated with a combination of mood stabilizing medication and therapy.

Bullying

Bullying is defined as the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.  It is characterised by an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim.

Bullying can take many forms such as:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Cyber-bullying

Typical traits of bullies:

  • Arrogant 
  • Narcissistic 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Often victims of bullying themselves

Typical traits of victims:

  • Aggressive
  • Lack social skills
  • Negative thinking
  • Poor family life
  • Rejected by peers
  • Weak
  • Emotional under-regulation
  • Poor self-esteem

Counselling can be used to help both bullies and victims.  It can help improve self-esteem, decision making, social skills, and empathy. 

 

Depression

Depression is characterised by low mood and an aversion to any activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviours, feelings, and sense of well-being.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Anxious
  • Empty
  • Hopeless
  • Worthless
  • Guilt
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest 
  • Pain
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression can be effectively treated with therapy and anti-depressants.  Most patients report the best recovery with a combination of therapy and medication rather than either in isolation. 

Emotional Dysregulation

When you don't feel in control of your emotions, it can be overwhelming.  Emotions can be either over-controlled or under-controlled.  

Over-Controlled Emotions

When emotions are over-controlled, people feel disconnected from their emotions.  You may feel numb and unable to express yourself.  This can cause problems with interpersonal relationship as it can be hard to connect with other people.  Often people with under-controlled emotions will report problems with anger or crying.  Trying to suppress emotions results in ignoring warning signals before becoming emotionally overwhelmed.  There are a number of reasons this can happy, often it is the body's way to protecting itself after a trauma.  Therapy can help reconnect with emotions and learn to listen to bodily signals.  

Under-Controlled Emotions

When emotions are under-controlled, people feel like they are completely controlled by their emotions. Under-controlled emotions are overwhelming and interfere with everyday functioning. These under-controlled emotions can cause strain in interpersonal relationship and diminish overall happiness. A therapist will work with you to understand the cause of your emotional dysregulation as well as teaching skills for emotion regulation.

Grief

Grief is a natural response to a loss, often to the death of a loved one.  Grief can also occur if a person suffers a symbolic loss, such as a child that has been disowned by a parent.  Addition examples of loss include the loss of a job, loss of health, or loss of perceived youth.  Grief can feel similar to depression but it is generally short-termed.  There is no prescribed method of grieving, people grieve in different ways.  

Many people find it helpful to seeking counselling when they are grieving.  It provides the opportunity to work through the loss with somebody who is non-judgemental. 

Life Transitions

Sometimes life moves faster than we are ready for.  During these times, people can feel scared, isolated, angry, depressed or lost.  Talking with a counsellor can help you process and move forward with your life after an unexpected change.  These changes can include the sudden loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a breakup, retirement, or having a child.  Having somebody to talk to during these times can help you feel back on track.  

If you are struggling with a life transition, you can click here to book an appointment with a counsellor; it can be the first step to feeling like yourself again. 

Parenting

Parenting is the hardest job there is.  It can be exhausting and overwhelming at times.  Children do not come with a manual explaining how to take care and raise them.  Parents only want what is best for their children, but sometimes they use strategies that result in challenging behaviours from their children.  Often, if a child is acting out, changing your parenting approach can make a huge difference.  

If you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed as a parent, a counsellor can help you in many ways.  Talking to a counsellor about how you are feeling, especially if you are having conflicting feelings about your child, can help you work through those complicated emotions.  Additionally, a counsellor can work with you to strengthen your parenting skills.  You will work as a team to help your family get back on track.  Click here to schedule an appointment with a counsellor. 

Relationship Conflicts

Relationships can be messy. When there is a break down in communication, relationships can be a primary source of emotional distress. Working with a counsellor can help you resolve that distress. Counselling can also help you work on communication to help you better manage conflicts when they arise. Counsellors can work with you individually or do joint sessions. Examples of the types of relationship conflicts that people attend counselling to resolve are:

  • Romantic relationships
  • Parent and child conflict
  • Conflict between siblings
  • Conflict with co-workers
  • Conflict with friends

If you would like to see a counsellor to help you resolve conflict in your life, click here to book a session.

Self-Esteem

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Suicide

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Trauma

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