When Should You Consider Counseling Or Psychotherapy?

By:  Mentor Research Institute
Revised:  May 21, 2014


The decision to see a counselor or therapist is usually made during times of indecision, stress or pain. The decision to seek help may also be the result of long standing issues or problems that may involve recurrent worries, frustrations, guilt, or self-defeating behaviors.  Counseling and psychotherapy is not intended to replace the potential role of friends, family or religious organizations; although some people may use and practice counseling and psychotherapy within a spiritual context.   

In many cases, competent counseling and psychotherapy can offer viable alternatives to psychiatric medications.  Any person's  ability to benefit from counseling or psychotherapy will be less certain if you rely on managed health care to authorize and restrict the services you receive. Managed health care has a tremendous influence and impact on the practice patterns of professionals.  Managed care will also attempt to influence and limit your treatment.  Using managed health care has many indirect impacts.  For instance, if you intend to rely on managed care, it may be necessary for you to be diagnosed with a more severe problem (Rather than a minor problem) in order to qualify for treatment.  

There are risks associated with the use of mental health insurance.  In addition, there is considerable controversy about diagnosis in the age of managed health care.  Using a professional who works for managed health care or an insurance company can be a viable option if you are not concerned about the risks and you don't mind having the diagnosis of a mental disorder in your health and insurance records.  If you do mind, then we suggest you consider seeking a professional who provides private counseling or psychotherapy services.

You may wish to consider seeking psychotherapy or counseling services if you or someone close to you is experiencing:

  • Depression, mood swings, anxiety or loneliness
  • Excessive anger, frustration or guilt
  • Constant worries or obsessions
  • Problems with food, alcohol or other drug use
  • Changes or potential changes in your life
  • Problems following an abusive or a traumatic event
  • Communication problems
  • Marital, parenting, employment or relationship problems
  • Health problems, sleep problems, or medical symptoms worsened by a psychological problem
  • A crisis that involves self-harming behavior, a risk of violence or the risk of suicide