“It’s Not That Bad…”

Lindsay Shortliffe - Palo Alto Psychologist

People often wonder whether what they are experiencing is severe enough to warrant professional attention. I would urge them to keep in mind that once a situation gets very severe, it is much more difficult to work on.  If instead you are able to get help when you are having milder symptoms, you are more likely to be able to utilize therapy and the skills you learn to improve more quickly and prevent a crisis.

Similarly, people often think that they are capable of getting through something difficult on their own. They wonder why they should bother with getting help, when they may eventually feel better without it.  It is possible that it is just an issue of time passing and a wound healing or a stressful circumstance resolving itself.  However, a supportive therapist can often help lighten the load.  You may need an outlet to think about and express what you are experiencing.  Or perhaps there are some useful skills that a counselor can provide you to help work through the problem.  By getting support with something difficult sooner you may learn things about yourself and tools you can utilize in the future when facing challenges.

Often people come into therapy later in life and learn a way of dealing with a problem they have faced for many years.  Maybe they have battled sleep problems that have caused them to live in a haze of exhaustion, only to find that with some adjustments to their bedtime routine and the application of certain behavioral techniques that have been shown to help with overcoming insomnia, they are able to sleep soundly for the first time.  Others may find that by putting off getting help the situation has become unresolvable.  On average, couples tend to come in to counseling 7 years after a problem has begun.  By this time, in addition to the original problem, there are many layers of pain and frustration that are exacerbating the problem and in some cases it can be too late to save the relationship.  In either situation, people often wish they had not waited so long to address the problems at hand. 

It can be very difficult to take the steps towards getting help, and much easier to put it off or hope that things improve on their own.  However, getting help sooner may save you later pain and provide you with healthy skills for the rest of your life.


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