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Why We Need Professional Counseling

Why We Need Professional Counseling

The world we live in today comes with a lot of pressure from all aspects of life; it could be work, family, health, the environment, politics and even problems from around the world. Whether you admit it or not, we often succumb to these pressures and wish that there was someone who could shoulder the burden for us. The best among us have to qualms sharing their problems with friends, family or even strangers. Unfortunately, there is another category of people who would rather take their problems to the grave than give an inkling to their suffering. This article may help change your mind.

Professional counseling

Even the boldest people in the society are often quick to dismiss the notion of seeking professional help to deal with certain matters. The idea of sitting in a counselor’s office going through the chapters of your life seems like a strange notion, and some people will even call it cowardly. They prefer to drown out their sorrows in a bottle of their favorite liquor and dance the night away hoping that their worries will find another victim. Well, victim or not, we all need to let off steam at some point in our lives. While some of us need it need more than others, there is no victim in the counseling room, only a winner determined to stay sane. So, what type of problems can counselors solve?

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Common problems solved by counselors

Professional counselors do more than getting into your business; they listen with the intent to unearth the source of your issues in a bid to help YOU, deal with your issues better. After a round of counseling sessions, the patient signs off equipped with tools to cope with the particular issues. The most common problems that call for professional help are as follows:

1. Drug addiction and alcoholism

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Many additions that plague today’s society ranging from television, the internet, gambling, food additions, etc. However, alcohol and drug dependency is top of the list of addictions that many citizens grapple with from day to day. Alcohol addiction can stem from childhood problems, the pressures at work, bad relationships with family or spouses, significant losses, etc. Whatever the source of the dependency, alcohol and drug addictions have ruined lives and shattered families for generations. If you need a chemical substance to cope with everyday responsibilities, seek professional help before you begin a downward spiral that leads to bigger problems such as failing health and even death. You may ask, why do people get addicted or hooked? The lucky among us can enjoy a sundowner every day or drinking binges while on vacation and still, resume our normal lives. Count your lucky stars because not everyone can manage this. A therapist with experience in this field will be the first to admit that treating alcoholism is an arduous journey that cannot guarantee results. It is common for patients to get ‘cured’ only to fall right back after a couple of months or years. The rule to surviving alcoholism is taking it one day at a time and staying away from triggers.

2. Stress and depression

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Mental disorders are a common problem in society, but we tend to downplay them to avoid opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. We face everyday stressors such as work, family, business, endless bills, etc. While a little bit of stress is essential to keep up on our toes, too much of it can easily progress to something bigger. Mental health is a vital part of our general well-being, and it is for this reason why professional counselors will recommend distressing now and then. Take a few moments from your day to appreciate yourself and the amazing things you are trying to accomplish. This little break will not only relieve stress but also boost your enthusiasm to tackle tasks that lay ahead. Most people often interchange the term stress and depression. While the two may stem from similar issues, they are completely different animals. Depression is much more advanced and requires professional counseling to manage. Find the best therapist for you and stick to the program.

3. Relationship problems

This type of problem is all so familiar to many of us who have gone through bad relationships with lovers, siblings, parents, coworkers, neighbors and even the mailman! As professional counselors will tell you, our tendency to fall into a series of poor relationships can stem from our childhood. Your therapist will ask “What happened to you as a child?” If you are the recipient of this question, you may be tempted to think that the doctor is fishing for material to fill up the hour for billing purposes. Who can blame you? Your counselor is right to ask this question because our childhood has a lot do to do with how we relate to people in our adult life.

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Conclusion

If you have suffered a trauma and cannot stop pondering about it, make an appointment with a therapist at the earliest opportunity. Seek a therapist outside your home area if this makes you more comfortable.

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Vikas Agrawal

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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