Reasons to see a counselor before the breakdown.

By David Joel Miller.

Reasons to seek out a counselor before the breakdown.

Counseling

Counseling or Therapy
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some people describe the onset of a mental health challenge as a “breakdown.” Breakdown implies that your problem came on suddenly. Most of the time problems develop slowly over time. You get yourself in trouble, not because of a sudden breakdown, but because you pretended you did not have a problem way too long.

You don’t have to wait for your car to break down for you get it serviced. And you don’t need to wait for your life to fall off the rails before you get a check up on your emotional life. High-performing athletes have coaches. Top executives often see life coaches, and many writers have writing coaches. While you can see your life, a therapist sees many people and can be helpful in identifying what you may be going through and how other people have solved that problem

Often people who noticed that they are feeling differently, forgetting more things, go to see a medical doctor. Sometimes that forgetfulness is a medical issue, but often it’s just that you have a lot on your mind. Lack of energy might signal an oncoming medical issue, but it can also be a symptom of depression or other emotional disorders. It’s always a good idea to get your physical health checked out first, but if the doctor doesn’t find anything significant, consider seeing a counselor or therapist to see how your emotions might be affecting your physical health.

What kinds of challenges might benefit from seeking counseling or coaching even when you do not think you have any mental illness?

You feel confused a lot.

Confusion is a good reason to look for help. Assuming you have ruled out medical issues like dementia and fatigue, you may be in a situation where you just do not know what you want to do or what the choices are.

People who are under a lot of stress, find that a large part of their mind is occupied trying to cope with that stress. Stress can be good, or it can be bad. If you find that your life is in transition, seeing a counselor can help you get some of that confusion clarified and make sense of what you’re going through.

Choice – You need to choose between A and B.

Most choices are not clear-cut.  If you pick A, it comes with good and bad parts.  The same for alternative B.  Often both choices involved things you would like to have and things you’d like to avoid.  While a counselor can’t tell you which choice to make, they can help you to sort out the good and bad parts of the two alternatives.  Sometimes it helps to have an outside objective party to talk things over with.

Most of us start off by talking to family and friends. Sometimes they can be very helpful. Everyone needs a support system. Unfortunately, family and friends aren’t always objective. If you’re considering taking a job, this may mean, you’ll leave co-workers who have become friends. They may want you to stay, but this may not be the best thing for your career. Decisions about going to school or back to school, often affect others in our lives. They will have their opinions about what they want you to do, but what you may need is help in sorting out what is best for you

Change can be very difficult.

Now, may be a time when your life needs to change. Change happens whether we want it to or not. Sometimes it’s a good thing; sometimes it’s a bad thing, but many times it just is. Everybody experiences times when their life changes.

You grew up, and it became time to leave home and start your life. You look for a job, or a career. Sometimes you need help finding a job, deciding on a career. Once you have that job, it’s easy to get stuck there. There may come a time when you decide you need to make a change.

Some people make the transition from young adult to parent easily. Other people struggle. There will be challenges and changes as your children grow. Some of these challenges can be made easier by seeing a counselor.

Many people find that the biggest changes in life come in the time’s past children. The children grow up and start their own lives. You may be somewhat involved in their lives and the lives of your grandchildren, but eventually, you should let that go to allow your children to become parents. The change to an empty nest is hard for some people. The change from your working years to retirement can also be difficult.

You may be facing a challenge.

When you are faced with a challenge and do not know if you have the abilities needed to reach your goals it may be helpful to talk with the professional. Sometimes what you need is to identify your strengths and your weaknesses especially in the emotional realm.

Counselors can help you learn the skills you need to face this challenge. Often counselors can see your potential even when you have your doubts.

If you’re struggling with your emotions or your life, now might be the time to enlist the services of a counselor or therapist.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Why do successful people have coaches?

By David Joel Miller.

The more successful you are the more likely you will have a coach.

Coaches

Coaches help you perform better.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Have you ever noticed that the top contenders have the top coaches on their side? You don’t find very many Olympic athletes who will go it alone. Top business executives look for executive coaches to help them take their game to a higher level. So why are people whose lives are not working so resistant to getting help?

In my counseling practice, I hear repeatedly that, I don’t need to see a counselor, I am not crazy. People who have serious substance use disorders will tell me they do not need rehab, they can quit on their own.

Couples do not have the time and do not think they need to spend the time on marriage counseling. Later on, they will spend ten times as much money and time on the divorce but till then they are all convinced they can do it alone. They do not see how counseling could help.

Why is it that a coach or in the emotional realm a counselor can so be helpful? Many of my clients are smart, and some are financially stable. What they can’t do is see their own situation accurately. How do counselors help people if you have already tried everything there is and your life is still not working? Here are some ways that counselors or life coaches can help even before your life comes apart.

You can’t see your own swing.

You may be making the same mistakes over and over. If you do not see the areas of your life that could be improved on you may not work on making those changes that could take your life to a whole other level of happiness until something breaks or crashes and burns.

Humans tend to do the same thing over and over. We develop habits because it saves time and keeps us from having to figure out how to get out of bed each morning. Many of these habits just are. Your parents did it that way. You did it that way once and have been doing it that way ever since.

You may not question those entrenched behaviors. You may not recognize ways you can improve what you have been doing. A professional can help you look for improvement opportunities.

You can’t see what is behind you no matter how you turn.

Sometimes we have things from our past that we think we are over but they keep cropping up. Finds may see this but they will be reluctant to tell you. If you hear bad news too soon, you may think that other person is jealous. Bad news from a friend can damage the friendship. A counselor has an obligation to tell you.

Sometimes there are patterns in your life. When you tell your life story to someone else that person can see how when you get to a certain situation you give up or make a bad choice. You may be picking bad partners or you may be applying for the wrong kinds of jobs. Getting a second opinion can help you make decisions and plan your future course.

A counselor or coach can give you the straight scoop. You pay them for their ability to give you another point of view. You can take their opinion into consideration or not.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Identifying those gaps in your life blueprint can help you develop the happy life skills you need. Your parents may have been great, perfect even. But if you are like most students in the school of life you did not get a hundred percent on any of life’s tests. Say you only got an 80%, a coach can point out the places you need to develop.

What if your parents were less than perfect? Whole lot of people came from dysfunctional homes. You may not have learned some life skills because your parents or other caregiver did not know these skills either. Identify the gaps in your life knowledge and work on those gaps.

It can feel uncomfortable to give yourself praise.

Just as we are often blind to our errors we can also fail to identify our strengths. You go farther in any endeavor if you can make the best use possible of your strengths. A good coach can often see that you have a talent for a function you have never considered. More than one famous athlete was switched from a position at which they were average to a new position by a coach who saw they had an unrecognized talent. Making that switch took their game and their life to a much higher level.

It helps to know what is ahead.

You are living this life. You probably have limited knowledge about what will happen in your life and when. Not that every life is predictably the same, but most of us have some common experiences.

I see people who graduate from high school and then go looking for work. The only thing they know about the world of work is the kind of part-time jobs a high school student could get and that is where they start their search.

As you move through life at different points that life will change. You start your career and your family. Your children grow up and your career goes where it goes. Then what? Is your career stuck? Do you know how to keep developing it? What will happen when the kids leave the house?

When you retire your life will change. What will happen when you retire? Some people have a great time. Others find that they don’t have the money to do those things they always wanted to do. They may not be healthy enough to do things in their retirement.

Counselors and coaches study a thing called lifespan development, what most people can expect to have happen, as they follow their life path. We also talk with a lot of people we hear their life stories, common themes emerge. We don’t tell you those other people’s secrets but a counselor can tell you the patterns of life we see.

Getting some Intel on things that may happen to you, what is normal and what is not, may help you have a better life.

Would seeing a counselor or life coach help you in navigating your life? No, you don’t have to be sick to go to see a counselor. You just need to be willing to spend the time that is needed to work on how you are going to live that life.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

How does a counselor help you create a happy life?

By David Joel Miller.

What would a life coach or counselor do to help you?

Skills coaching

Life and Recovery Coaching means learning new skills.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The traditional way of thinking about things was that you should just automatically be well and happy and that if you were not then you were sick or there was something wrong with you. If you were sick or mentally ill then you went to the doctor and they gave you some pills to make you better.

Over the last hundred years or so, new ways of looking at things have emerged. First, there was talk therapy, the talking cure that involved going to see a counselor and talking through your issues. Still, this was mostly deficit based. You were sick and the professional was supposed to know how to fix you. The sicker you were the more you needed to talk about and the longer you needed to talk.

Recently we have seen some new trends emerging. Healthy living can keep you physically healthy and thinking more helpful thoughts might prevent the occurrence of a mental illness or at least make it get better faster. There are things you can do to work on yourself and the counselor, sometimes now a “life coach”, can help you learn how to create that better less stressful life you want.

Yes, we know that there may be some difficulties that are genetic or the result of trauma or injury, but even for those conditions, there are ways you can reduce your stress and help to keep yourself mentally well.

This new emphasis on mental wellness and recovery has gone by several names. Strength-based counseling and positive psychology are two of the prominent ones. WRAP also belongs on that list.

If you were to go to a life coach or counselor that worked from a more strength based approach how would they go about helping you?  Also, how might you go about preparing to help yourself.

1. Get clear on your values.

A beginning exercise would involve getting clear on your values. Is money important to you? Is family? Which is more important? Lots of people spend time in life pursuing goals only to find out that the things they had to do to get there were not consistent with their values.

There are several good exercises that can help you get clear on your values. You could also spend some time thinking about what is important to you. A good counselor would spend some time with you making sure you know the guiding principles of your life before sending you off on a quest for your happy life.

2. Counselors help you set goals.

Goals are about where you want to go. Values are about how you want to take the trip. Do you want to be wealthy? Why? Are you OK with cheating people to get there or is being honest more important to you than the money?

Now don’t go saying you do not want to be successful you are not all about money. There are lots of other goals that are more important to many people than money. Just if you are working hard to get a good education so you can get a good job so you can make a lot of money is that success if helping the less fortune was your value?

You could use the money to help others or you might choose to work in a program that paid less but that helped the needy.

Do you want to be a great athlete? Or is a writer more your thing? Maybe being a great father or mother is your priority. No one goal is the “best” in and of itself. Just pick the one that speaks to you and check it against the value yardstick you created in step one.

Most people have several goals and find they need to prioritize them. It takes time to reach goals and you need to be sure you work on the big ones rather than leaving those to a someday that never comes. A good counselor or life coach can help you figure this out.

3. Counselors can help you create a plan to reach goals.

Say your goal was to have more friends. Maybe you are shy and meeting people is hard. The counselor could help you devise a plan to stretch your comfort zone and begin to expand your circle of friends.

4. Counselors can aid you in learning needed skills.

Shy people often lack social or people skills. Rather than saying that this is just the way you are, we used to blame that on your being introverted, your counselor might teach you some social skills and help you create opportunities to practice these skills.

5. A counselor can monitor your progress – hold you accountable.

Having to check in each week and let the counselor know how you did on the homework or practice assignments can motivate you to keep working on your skills. Nothing so keeps you accountable as having to pay that other person each week and knowing you will be largely wasting your money if you pay to go in and tell them you didn’t do the work.

If you find you can’t or don’t want to do the required practice, that is important information for your life change project. Talk this part through and see if it is fear or if the goals are wrong or you picked goals that do not match your values. Some people at this point come to the realization that those goals are not really their goals. They are what their parents wanted for them or what they think they should be working towards.

6. Counselors assist in revising the plan as needed.

When plans do not work or when you breeze through them and decide that goal was too easy, you need to revise your plan. A good counselor can help you keep updating your plans and taking your life game to the next level.

From all these points you can see that none of this is about any diagnosable mental illness. It is about creating a happy life. People with a happy life have way less depression or anxiety and stress, well they just eat that for breakfast.

While this happy life planning may not fit well with staying sick so you can get free therapy, still it can beat the heck out of a not-happy life. Consider investing in and working on a life plan that helps you build the happy, well life you are looking for.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books