Question: How do I know it is time to look for professional psychological psychotherapy? Do I need intervention of a physician or psychotherapist?
Answer: (Written by Martin Winkler)
Many people are still afraid to talk about psychological problems or difficulties in their relationship. But some of them might feel the need to talk to someone, who is an experienced professional. No online information or counselling could replace this personal consultation!
You should consider professional advice, if your personal problems are affecting your quality of life and social functions at work or at home for more than a month. If your problems are long-lasting people tend to adjust in a dysfunctional way, using food, alcohol, drugs or overworking to reduce frustration or severe psychological problems. This must cause severe problems on the long run.
You should talk to a skilled professional, if:
- You worry all the time and do not find an answer
- Can´t stop negative or obsessive and compulsive thoughts or behaviours
- Feel out of control of recurrent negative thoughts, images or flash-back due to past traumatic experiences
- Feel dysphoric and irritable or nervous for a longer period
- Feel depressed or anxious for more than two weeks.
- Your problems or thoughts affect your sleep or ability to relax.
- You notice a change of eating habits, alcohol consumption, use of inappropriate drugs or other behavior to "reduce" your problems
- You need someone to talk about interpersonal problems
There are many types of mental health experts:
Your local doctor (GP)
Usually your doctor is familiar with the impact of psychological and psychosomatic issues on your health. It can be important to exclude organic disorder (like thyroid disorders) and to check your actual medications. The doctor will be able to give a first opinion about the severity and appropriate treatment choice. They know other specialized professionals for your problem and can coordinate the therapeutic process. In case of severe actual impact your every day life the doctor may also prescribe short-term medications to reduce sleeping problems or severe symptoms of anxiety or start an antidepressant medication.
After completing a university education most clinical psychologist specialize in one special form of psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive-behavioural therapy, gestalt therapy, psychoanalytic therapy). They get a special education and training about mental diseases with a substantial scientific background. The psychotherapeutic education offers special skills and experiences to apply it in a professional setting. Psychologists are licensed and usually get paid by the health insurance system.
The psychologist will collaborate with you to identify and describe your problem and establish different possible treatment options to cope or change the problem. This might include changing behavior, attitutes or establishing new skills (e.g. communication, problems solving, emotional regulation, relaxation). So you can find constructive ways to deal with situations that are beyond your control.