Seeking Help For Life Problems
There are many people who have reached an impasse with their life problems and have decided on their own that getting professional help is the logical next step, but this doesn’t mean they go out and get it. In fact the vast majority don’t, and it’s not necessarily due to the stigma attached to mental health issues or to the felt humiliation of needing someone else to sort out what’s wrong.
From the motivational interviewing point of view it’s simply that the vital stage of planning is overlooked. In general we live by the fallacy that we can and do go from contemplation to action. But paralyzing anxiety is always going to get in the way unless a clear plan of attack is created first. With a plan in place action loses that ephemeral quality that it retains in the contemplation stage. Action becomes concrete, it’s simply putting the laid out plan into motion.
In the case of counseling some examples of planning involve isolating what the presenting problems are, researching which types of therapy and which theoretical systems best fit these problems, how many times a week and for how long an ideal course of counseling would run, any values or lack of values a counselor could have that would be a deal breaker, whether a female or male would be preferable, and deciding on an affordable price point.
People should remember that contacting counselors to ask them important questions about what sessions would look like puts them under no obligation to book a session, and actually if they do feel that pressure maybe it’s a sign, just like in most hard sells, to politely decline.
The sense of paralysis before the action stage is not unique to seeking help for life problems. The way to lower that anxiety in order to shift out of neutral and into gear is to do the proper planning, to get questions answered, to realize that there is a lot to do between contemplating a change and making a change.