How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?

Most of us face struggles at some point in our lives. These struggles may include stress at work, difficulty with a romantic partner, or problems with a family member. Alternatively, struggles may include emotional symptoms such as depression or anxiety, behavioral problems such as difficulty throwing useless items away or drinking alcohol too often, and managing thoughts such as repetitive, upsetting thoughts or uncontrolled worry. Sometimes, life’s struggles can be eased by taking better care of yourself, and perhaps talking about the issues with a supportive friend or family member. But there may be times when these steps don’t resolve the issue. When this happens, it makes sense to consider seeking the help of a qualified licensed behavioral health clinician. How do you know if therapy is needed?

Two general guidelines can be helpful when considering whether you or someone you love could benefit from therapy. First, is the problem distressing? And second, is it interfering with some aspect of life?

When thinking about distress, here are some issues to consider:
• Do you or someone close to you spend a significant amount
of time every week thinking about the problem?
• Is the problem embarrassing, to the point that you want to
hide it from others?
• Over the past few months, has the problem reduced your
quality of life?
• Do you experience significant upset over the problem?

When thinking about interference, some other issues may deserve consideration:
• Does the problem take up considerable time (e.g., more than
an hour per day)?
• Have you curtailed your work, family involvement or
educational ambitions because of the problem?
• Are you re-arranging your lifestyle to accommodate the
• Is the problem keeping you from doing what you want to do?

A ‘yes’ response to any of these questions suggests that you might wish to consider seeking professional help. Remember that sometimes a problem might be less upsetting to you than it is to the people around you. This may not automatically mean that you are functioning ok, and that your friends or family are overreacting. Rather, this situation suggests that you may wish to think about why the people who care about you are so concerned.

Clearly, the decision to enter into therapy is a very personal one. Numerous advances have been made in the treatment of psychological disorders in the past decade and many therapies have been scientifically shown to be helpful. As you think about whether therapy might be helpful to you, remember that many psychological problems are treatable using short-term therapy approaches. Learning more about different approaches to therapy might also help you to discern if one of them sounds like a good fit with your personality and approach to life. Given the range of therapeutic options that are available, you won’t need to continue to struggle with a problem that is upsetting and/or getting in the way of other parts of your life. Help is available. Oasis Clinical Staff offers a FREE 15 minute telephone consultation to discuss any questions you may have regarding whether therapy is likely to be helpful to you. You may call #304-733-3331 to schedule a phone consultation.

Source: Adapted from American Psychological Association Division 12 http://www.div12.org/

•Get the facts. Make sure you understand the situation. Don’t jump to conclusions.
•Talk it out with sympathetic and objective others.
•Avoid mood-altering substances, including caffeine and alcohol.
•Make sure you’re not hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (H.A.L.T. – an acronym from Alcoholics Anonymous).
•Don’t let ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) run away with you.
•Detach. Step back and watch yourself. Go into observer mode.
•Sit with the thought or feeling. Use mindfulness to observe it. Perhaps it isn’t what you thought at first. Some emotions are more than one layer. Something different might be seen underneath if you observe carefully.
•Remind yourself of your core values. Don’t do something that’s going to make you feel guilty or ashamed later. Don’t do something that’s going to hurt people you love.
•Resist emotional behavior. Impulsive, emotional behavior maintains or heightens the unwanted emotion and usually leads to adverse consequences. Doing nothing is usually better than doing something stupid.
•Counter physiological arousal. (If too excited, scared, or angry, use relaxation exercises to calm down. If too lethargic, bored, or detached, do something like exercise or listen to loud music.)
•Refocus attention. Distract yourself from upsetting emotions through physical or mental activity. “Move a muscle, change a thought.”
•Do something useful. Accomplish something else, something that is of value to you and is not related to the upsetting emotion.

Facebook Provides First-of-a-Kind Service To Help Prevent Suicides.
SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline collaborate with Facebook to help those in crisis.

In partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Facebook is announcing a new service that harnesses the power of social networking and crisis support to help prevent suicides across the Nation and Canada. The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site. The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an email from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.

About the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) is the public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The Action Alliance envisions a nation free from the tragic experience of suicide. Learn More.

Your Child: What Every Parent Needs to Know What's Normal, What's Not, and When to Seek Help
by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

Provides guidance for day-to-day interactions between caregiver and child, suggestions for sleep problems, a discussion of the development of self-esteem, and how to determine when behaviors call for professional help (and where to find it.)

Your Adolescent: What Every Parent Needs to Know What's Normal, What's Not, and When to Seek Help
by The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists

Addresses peer influence, dating identity, emerging sexuality, independence, separation anxiety, and responsibility as well as violent behavior, experimental alcohol and drug use, teen suicide, and eating disorders.

Is it "Just a Phase"? How to Tell Common Childhood Phases from More Serious Problems
Susan Swedo and Henrietta Leonard, Golden Books, 1998

Responds to the questions about children, "Is this normal, or do we have a serious problem? How can we tell the difference?"

It's Nobody's Fault
Harold S. Kolewicz, Random House, 1996

Explains that mental illnesses are no-fault brain disorders. The author devotes a chapter to each of 13 disorders and their diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids
Timothy E. Wilens, Guilford Press, 1999

Provides up-to-date information and explores options. Uses real-life examples, answers frequently asked questions, explains medications, and discusses effects of mental illness on children. Helps readers become active, informed managers of their child's care.

Do Unto Others: How Good Deeds Can Change Your Life
by Rabbi Abraham Twerski, MD, Andrews McNeel Publishing, 1997

An inspirational collection of stories of everyday people who have turned their lives around by doing good deeds for others. These are powerful and moving anecdotes about how practicing the "Golden Rule" can heal your soul.

To The Summit: A Woman's Journey Into The Mountains To Find Her Soul
by Margo Chisholm with Ray Bruce, Morrow Avon Press, 1997

An extraordinary account of one woman's journey to the highest peaks on each of the Earth's seven continents, while simultaneously recovering from alcohol, cocaine, and food addiction. A true story of a remarkable transition from self-doubt and despair to the top of the world: a moving and exhilarating tale of adventure and the astonishing strength of the human spirit.

Overcoming Depression (Third Edition)
by Demitri F. Papolos, M.D. and Janice Papolos, Harper Collins, 1997

This newly revised and updated edition provides state-of-the art medical information about depression and bipolar disorder, as well as practical advice for patients and their loved ones on becoming active participants in their diagnosis and treatment. Includes information on the new anti-depressant and mood-stabilizing drugs and advice on the use of lithium and Prozac during pregnancy. Also included: an expanded section on how psychiatric services have been impacted by managed care. A physician member of the Scientific Council of NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) called this "The best book on depression for general audiences that I have ever seen..."

Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child
by John Bradshaw, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1992 (Reprint). Also available as an audio series.

In this outing, the well-known self-help guru offers a guide to understanding and mourning the wounded inner child within each of us. The book sets out to help heal the core self that is damaged and concealed when the growing child tries to adapt to life in a dysfunctional family. Drawing on techniques used in his workshops, Bradshaw helps put readers in touch with painful childhood memories and experiences. Only after confronting and re-experiencing these past hurts, he maintains, can we break the family cycle of dysfunctionality and move ahead with our lives.

On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations About Conquering Depression
by Kathy Cronkite, Delta, 1995

Walter Cronkite's daughter, herself a depression sufferer, interviews other famous and successful people who have struggled with depression. Writers, actors, and politicians such as Mike Wallace, Kitty Dukakis, William Styron, Joan Rivers and many others reveal how they endured - and conquered - the disorder. The well-researched book also includes information from medical researchers and other experts on the workings of depression and types of treatment available. One reader called it, "...tremendously comforting and, most of all, it inspires hope. Anyone who has, or knows someone who has depression can benefit greatly from this book."

"Help Me, I'm Sad": Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression
by David G. Fassler, M.D. and Lynne S. Dumas, Penguin USA, 1998

Until the early 1980's, there was no official diagnosis for depression in children. The National Institute of Mental Health now estimates that 2.5 million children under age 18 have experienced it This book explains how parents and caregivers can distinguish depression from normal sadness in their children and adolescents and how to tell if your child is at risk. This book covers the symptoms of depression, its link with other problems, its impact on the family, and teen suicide. Provides information on finding the right diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Wrote one reader, "If you're the parent of a depressed child - or think you might be - this is a must-read. It's a reassuring, gentle, but completely informative guide..."

Coping with Trauma: A Guide to Self-Understanding
by Jon G. Allen, Ph.D, American Psychiatric Press, 1999

A comprehensive summary of the latest professional knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for people struggling to cope with its effects. Also a useful resource for mental health professionals who work with trauma victims. One mental health practitioner wrote of the book, "...[it] provides in depth explanations and information which provides clients with... validation of symptoms and behaviors. As a person with PTSD, I found [it] validating, informative, and positive. The author's tone throughout is positive and hopeful. He answered questions I've had for years but didn't ask."

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond: Light Treatment for SAD and Non-SAD Conditions
by Raymond W. Lam (Editor), American Psychiatric Press, 1998

In 1984, psychiatrist Dr. Norman Rosenthal and his colleagues published a seminal research paper on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which asserted the healing power of light therapy for people suffering from this condition. This comprehensive resource provides new findings, as well as a complete summary of the available literature on light therapy. Seventeen contributors -- leading clinicians studying the effects and uses of light treatment -- discuss its impact on SAD and other conditions such as premenstrual depression, circadian phase sleep disorders, jet lag, shift work disorders, insomnia, and behavioral disturbances.

When Someone You Love Is Depressed: How To Help Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself
by Laura Epstein Rosen and Xavier Francisco Amador, Simon and Schuster (Fireside), 1997

Research has shown that the loved ones of a person who is clinically depressed are at much greater risk of developing psychological, emotional, and even physical problems themselves. This useful guide explains how families, friends, and spouses can safeguard their own mental and physical health while helping and supporting the depressed person in their lives. The book suggests methods you can use to protect yourself and your relationship with the person. It also offers guidance on how to recognize your own needs, provide the best kind of support, and encourage the depressed person to seek treatment. Wrote one reader, "This book gives a good explanation of what depression is, as well as effective ways of coping with it. It also provides valuable information and resources."

“Dr. Webb’s Top 10 Stress Busters”
1. Physical activity. - Get into motion. Do some type of physical activity that moderately raises your heart rate at least three to four times per week for 30 to 45 minutes. Physical exercise not only helps your body but it relieves pain, physical stress, and elevates serotonin levels which can enhance mood and outlook.
2. Generate positive mood states. – Learn how to think in ways that improve your emotional states. Try to find the positive in all your daily experiences. Work at developing a grateful, appreciative attitude.
3. Resolve problems as soon as possible. – Procrastination and avoidance of problems usually causes them to get worse. Facing and resolving our stressful situations immediately prevents them from developing into more complicated challenges.
4. Make peace of mind the #1 priority. – The Buddhist tradition of “Mindfulness” is based on the idea that a laser focus on the present moment of our experience will lead to greater inner peace and a higher capacity for joy. After all, “NOW” is the only reality that exists. The past is gone, and the future is imaginary.
5. Build quiet time into your daily self-care routine. – Contemplation, meditation, prayer and simple deep breathing can help slow your heart rate and respiration, and focus your mind inward away from whatever external issues are causing you stress.
6. Get consistent and adequate sleep. – Being well-rested allows you to approach stressful situations more calmly. Inadequate sleep has a number of serious and negative effects on one’s overall health. Most people do best with seven to nine hours of restful sleep per night.
7. Consume a healthy diet. – Eat mostly live foods such vegetables, fruits, nuts and low fat proteins. This will help your body ward off the damaging effects of the stressors of modern life.
8. Spend time with loved ones. – Recent studies have demonstrated there are significant benefits on health and longevity from developing a healthy social network. Friends, acquaintances, and loved ones can provide a good source of emotional support and practical advice, and suggest new and effective ways to handle life’s problems.
9. Use humor regularly. – Laughter really is good medicine. Recent research has found that laughter has a stress–relief effect on heart rate, respiratory rate and muscle tension. Your own experience has probably already convinced you that laughing makes you feel better.
10. Consult a professional when necessary. – Extreme chronic stress can become a serious health risk. Enlist the help of a professional health care provider if you believe you are at risk for serious psycho-emotional or physical health consequences from stress.

How happy are you?

This one-minute survey, called the Satisfaction with Life Scale, is used in many studies on happiness.

Satisfaction with Life Scale

Below are five statements that you may agree or disagree with. Using the 1-7 scale below, indicate your agreement with each item by placing the appropriate number on the line following that item. Be open and honest in your responses.

1 Strongly Disagree
2 Disagree
3 Slightly Disagree
4 Neither Agree nor Disagree
5 Slightly Agree
6 Agree
7 Strongly Agree

In most ways my life is close to my ideal. ___
The conditions of my life are excellent. ___
I am satisfied with my life. ___
So far I have gotten the important things I want in life ___
If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing. ___

Add up your scores ___

31 - 35 Extremely Satisfied
26 - 30 Satisfied
21 - 25 Slight Satisfied
20 Neutral
15 - 19 Slightly Dissatisfied
10 - 14 Dissatisfied
5 - 9 Extremely Dissatisfied

A short test such as this can give only a general idea of your level of satisfaction and happiness. Your score will depend on your feelings about your life to date, your current circumstances, and the short-term effect of recent events.
• If your score indicates you are satisfied or extremely satisfied, you find most areas of your life to be very rewarding.
• If you score as slightly satisfied or neutral, there are probably several areas of your life that you would like to improve. If so, this report offers a number of strategies.
• If you score as dissatisfied to extremely dissatisfied, you may be reacting to recent bad events. However, if you have felt this way for a long time and are not feeling optimistic about the future, you may need to make significant changes in your life, and you might benefit from seeking help from a mental health professional.

Additional Resources:
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership
National Alliance on Mental Illness

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PO Box 219
Barboursville, WV 25504-0219