How do I know if I need professional help?


Professional help should be sought when you are unhappy within yourself and when your distress is compromising your relationships or your work. You may have tried certain strategies and remedies but they do not appear to be helping. Counselling can provide you with alternative ways of seeing the problem and strategies for overcoming it. Counselling can also help walk you through a difficult transition or a loss. Your counsellor is trained to view your situation from a professional point of view.

Without professional assistance dysfunctional responses to problems can become ingrained and difficult to change. They may furthermore give rise to secondary, additional complications. Here are some indicators that you may be in need of professional help:

  • You are constantly down or sad
  • You feel weepy without reason
  • You are negative or cynical in your outlook
  • You notice that your sleeping and/or eating patterns have changed
  • You constantly feel tired
  • You are easily angered by small things and/or are getting into fights
  • You feel isolated, alone and withdrawn
  • You have faced or are facing a painful transition
  • You feel life is not worth living
  • You rely on drugs and/or alcohol to cope
  • You have been in a traumatic incident and have not been functioning well since.
  • You are battling to focus at work


How do I know if my child needs professional help?


Children do not always voice when they are in distress. Sometimes this is because they do not know how to express it, or it may be because they do not know how it will be received if they do. It may show instead through behavioural changes and a drop in schoolwork. Getting your child professional assistance can help equip him or her with resources to deal with the problem. Indicators that a child may need professional are some of the following:

  • Your child has become withdrawn
  • Your child is moody or irritable
  • Your child is exhibiting unusual or inappropriate behaviour
  • Your child is getting into fights
  • Your child’s schoolwork has dropped
  • Your child is not sure what to study after finishing school


What can I expect from the first session?

It is normal to feel some anxiety around contacting a psychologist and attending your first session. After all, you will be telling a ‘stranger’ things that are personal and sometimes even things you have not shared with others. These are normal feelings to have. With familiarity and trust these anxious feelings usually subside.

At the start of your first session you will be asked to sign a contract. The contract outlines the terms of confidentiality, its limits, and matters pertaining to payment.  Importantly, the first session is used to plot the full extent of the problem. You’ll most likely be asked about its impact in a number of different areas in your life. From there it can be determined what your expectations are in dealing with the problem and what your expectations are for therapy.

It is important to understand that therapy is a process and that problems which often have been years in the making are not unmade overnight. They take time and commitment from you to change.


How long is a session?

Each session is 60 minutes unless otherwise arranged (e.g. in the case of some assessments which may take longer). 


Child sessions

Where a child is to be brought for therapy it is customary for the 1st session to be held with the parent(s) only (i.e. the child does not attend). This parent interview is necessary to allow for the gathering of information about how the problem is seen to be affecting the child. From session 2 onwards the child attends without his or her parent(s).

If you are a single parent bringing your child for therapy it is advisable that you inform and gain consent from the child’s other parent. You should make a special effort to have a discussion with your child about what is going to happen as it can otherwise be very anxiety-provoking for them. Great care should be taken to allay any anxieties by presenting it in non-threatening terms. Importantly, you should try to gain from your child a willingness to attend as children who attend reluctantly are more resistant and may make fewer therapeutic gains.