For many of us, talking to anyone about our fears, thoughts or concerns can be a daunting experience. As a result, some of us choose to put it off, utilising other strategies to deal with the problem instead.
Although many of these strategies may absolutely work for some, others may need a little help overcoming particular hurdles that arise throughout life.
We spoke to The Mind Room’s Clinical Psychologist Darryl Ribaux and Provisional Psychologist Laura Abbey to understand when it may be time to book an appointment with a Psychologist.
The Mind Room: Are there any warning signs that people should look for which may indicate it’s time to talk to someone?
Darryl Ribaux: “There’s no set criteria that indicate that it’s time. For example, some people can be low for a week or so but it may be that they’ve had that experience before and it’s not particularly distressing. For others who haven’t experienced that before, their distress or their concern about it might be very different. Or it may be that someone who has felt low mood for a prolonged period of time, begins to feel like they can’t cope with a further deterioration in mood.
One thing we do know is that when people are feeling emotional distress or are struggling with mood or anxiety issues, many people will find it effective to speak through the issues with someone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a psychologist, but it helps if it’s someone who listens and understands it.”
Laura Abbey: “It can be a change in mood, if you’re feeling low or anxious and it goes on for a little while, not feeling like yourself, a change in behaviour, like withdrawing from friends or activities you usually enjoy, if you’re not feeling motivated to do things you normally enjoy, or other people have noticed things or commented as well.”
The Mind Room: Are there any thought patterns that may indicate you should talk to someone?
DR: “If you’re feeling stuck in a pattern of thinking (for example, constant worry about things going wrong, self-criticism about things done in the past, anger about what others have done), and, this is causing distress, is upsetting, impacting relationships or other parts of life.
LA: “A fixation. If you find yourself looking back at the past and ruminating (thinking over and over something), or alternatively if you’re looking towards the future and you’re really worried about something going wrong. If these thoughts start interfering with your daily life to the detriment of what you’d normally be doing.
I’d also be looking out for really self-critical or negative thoughts about yourself. Or feelings of helplessness or hopelessness are ones to watch out for as well.”
The Mind Room: Does it have to be a serious problem in order to talk to someone?
DR: “People can be distressed but think that their problems aren’t as serious as other peoples’ or that “I might be over-reacting”. If it feels like a concern to you then talking to someone may help regardless of whether you define it as a serious problem.”
LA: “No it doesn’t have to be a serious problem, they can certainly deal with serious problems, but you can see them to enhance wellbeing or performance in life. Also if you feel like you’re going pretty well overall but there’s a few things in your life that are a bit stressful and you want to get on top of them before they become more of a problem, that’s a great time to seek help as well.”
The Mind Room: Is there ever a time not to see a psychologist?
DR: “People always come for a good reason. And a lot of times people come in and say ‘it doesn’t seem serious’ but it’s important to you.”
if you are going because someone else wants you to and are not really self-motivated. Therapy works better when you want to be there – both for you and the psychologist!
The Mind Room: What are some of the ways that a psychologist can help?
DR: “One of the most important things we do is to help to get a bit of clarity about what the problem is. Generally people aren’t liking what is happening to them, so we can help them identify how they want things to be (or not be) and work with them within a coherent framework to help get them there.
No strategies or methods will suit everyone. So a psychologist will help to create a response or pathway to better mental health that suits you best.”
LA: “They can help you come to an understanding of what’s going on for you, and it’s a collaborative relationship. You work out what’s going on for you and what your goals are. The client is the expert in their own lives, and then the psychologist can offer all different kinds of techniques, strategies and approaches to help you work out where you want to go.