Common Questions About Counselling

When Is It Time To Seek Counselling?

  • When anxiety, worry, or fear interferes with regular activities
  • When feelings of guilt persist and don’t yield to confession and the usual spiritual disciplines
  • When one feels perpetually like a victim
  • When anger seems uncontrollable
  • When a cluster of symptoms indicate stress-related concerns for which a physician can find no organic cause: frequent headaches, palpitations, shortness of breath, agitation, insomnia, loss of concentration
  • When reactions to loss are prolonged or unusual – typically, the grief process is very difficult especially during the first year or so, but indications of a renewed sense of meaning and effectiveness should slowly begin to manifest themselves.
  • When behaviours which conflict with accepted beliefs and values become uncontrollable
  • When moods become depressive or euphoric to the point of interfering with appropriate functioning or behaviour
  • When routine problem solving and the challenges of life seem overwhelming
  • When a traumatic event has been experienced or witnessed, whether in childhood or in adulthood
  • When there is a pattern of conflictual or failed relationships at home, work, or church
  • BEFORE getting married, particularly in the case of remarriage of one or both partners, and ESPECIALLY if children are involved
  • When it is sensed that there is a need for deeper intimacy which is not currently being met in a marriage relationship
  • When outstanding issues in a marriage continue to undermine an effective couple ministry as parents or in any other roles
  • When communication in a relationship becomes a vehicle for argument and hostility rather than for problem solving and affirmation
  • When normal life stages or unexpected events present greater than anticipated strain on the couple relationship; for example, birth of a child, job loss or promotion, retirement, infertility, major trauma or illness
  • When the pressures of ministry threaten a sense of priorities within the couple and family relationships
  • When a partner or family member exhibits signs of mental illness
  • When the typical way in which discipline is handled within the family is not working, or seems only to contribute to increased rebellion or withdrawal
  • When a sudden change or regression occurs in children’s behaviour: bedwetting, stuttering, nightmares, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, or avoidance of activities previously enjoyed

When Is It Time To Refer Someone For Professional Counselling?

  • When the amount and quality of time spent with someone is blurring other boundaries of the relationship, obscuring objectivity
  • When it is not possible to maintain confidentiality or to foster honest disclosure due to a prior existing relationship (ex: helper also has supervisory, mentorship or disciplinary role)
  • When more than a few helping “sessions” have been provided and there seems to be no progress
  • When the helper lacks appropriate time, training and/or supervision to deal effectively with presenting issues and to cope personally with the emotional and spiritual demands of helping
  • When the helper feels frustrated that advice is not heeded, or that simple solutions are not implemented, and blame and judgment replace a sense of compassion about the person being helped
  • PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION IS IMPERATIVE in cases involving allusions to harm oneself or others, potential abuse or neglect of a child, or domestic violence, as there are legal and other ramifications which may imply liability for the church in which a person is functioning as a helper. A knowledge of community resources and legal mandates for limiting confidentiality are also required to adequately assist someone in such a situation.