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Where to start and who to turn to?

Aug 30, 2015

Not a straightforward question to answer, because it depends what the issue is and quite often we can’t put into words why we feel low.

Depending on your attitude to talking to other people about your emotional problems, you can talk to your partner, a member of your family, a close friend or colleague. Some chose their religious leader and you would be amazed how many hairdressers, bar tenders, and taxi drivers listen to people’s problems. Many people start by talking to their doctor, as this is someone you can talk to in confidence. Anonymous telephone helplines such as The Samaritans are also an option.

We live in a time of powerful social media and it is shocking how much some people choose to reveal about themselves. My advice is to keep your emotional issues well away from social media. You never know when a post of that nature will come back to haunt you. If the whole world doesn’t need to know, don’t tell the whole world.

The bottom line is that you should talk to someone you feel you can trust, and only you know who that person is. Sometimes it is enough to find someone who is a good listener, sometimes you need more.

There is a bewildering array of people working in mental health ranging from the well-educated professionals to the unscrupulous con artists. I can’t describe in detail all the options available, that would be a complete book in itself, so here are a few general categories:

General Practitioners (your doctor) do not have specialist training in psychiatry or psychology and can therefore only provide limited advice on mental health. Your doctor would typically refer you to counselling or suggest that you find a psychologist or counsellor yourself. General Practitioners can, if they think it is the right thing to do, prescribe medication such as anti-depressants. This, in my opinion, happens too often, but that is another story. Just do not think that you necessarily need medication. Pills treat the symptoms, not the causes and they have side effects.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have specialised in psychiatry and they typically deal with the severe cases of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders.

Psychologists are not medically trained and deal with the way the mind works, our thoughts, feelings, motivations, and behaviours. Psychologists deal with the normal functioning of the mind. There is a wide range of specialisms within psychology. Anxieties, depression, stress and other emotional problems are typically treated by clinical or counselling psychologists.

There is a lot of overlap in the work of psychiatrists and psychologists, but the above are main differences.

Psychotherapists help people to overcome stress, emotional and relationship problems or troublesome habits. A psychotherapist may be a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional, who has had further specialist training in psychotherapy. Increasingly, there are a number of psychotherapists who do not have backgrounds in the above fields, but who have undertaken in depth training in this area.

Alternative therapists have no specific background, but have typically learnt some kind of therapy that they believe in. Some have undergone formal training in their chosen therapy others have not. Alternative therapies are also called complementary therapies as they often achieve results in combination with some other form of therapy.

As you can tell, therapies cover a wide spectrum. At the high end, you have the traditional and established therapies. At the bottom, you have the fortune-tellers and other unscientific and unproven methods. You should always do your research before you book a session. Check the internet, speak to the therapist and ask plenty of questions. Then make a judgement if you trust the person. The further you move away from the established and recognised therapies the greater the chance that it is your belief in the therapy rather than the therapy itself that gives you results. You may also find that you are just wasting your money.

I have a degree in Psychology and use the long established Thought Field Therapy as my theoretical and practical basis for treatment of emotional distress. Thought Field Therapy is used all over the world by psychiatrists, doctors, and psychologists.

Sometimes, people do not seek help because they believe therapy does not help. This is the topic of my next post.

As always, feel free to send a message or drop me an email ( peter@better-lives.co.uk ) if there is anything you want to discuss.

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"I could always rely on Peter to ask a thought provoking question that stimulated my own reasoning and thought process. Coaching has been a very positive experience and I feel I am better equipped to manage my work environment and myself." LC