Do I Need Counseling?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I was hospitalized twice last fall, and diagnosed with four different disorders. However, I do not feel that these are accurate and have terminated counseling and medication. I’m wondering if this was the best decision for me. I didn’t feel like I was getting any better with the medication or making any progress in therapy. I’d been going for five months. Should I stick to my decision or try another therapist? I feel like things have gotten better since I stopped going, but I’ve also noticed that I’ve become obsessed with my hospitalizations and researching my disorders. Is this abnormal?

A. I would need more detailed information about your situation to know whether you need counseling. You said that things were better for you when you stopped treatment but not everything about your situation improved. You began to develop new problems. You started to obsess about your hospitalizations and researching your disorders. I don’t think it’s “normal” to engage in obsessive-like thinking or behavior. By definition “obsession” means that a person has an unhealthy and unreasonable preoccupation with a feeling or an idea. By obsessed, do you mean that you can’t stop thinking about the hospitalizations? How much time in a day do you spend thinking about the hospitalizations? Does this obsession cause you to lose sleep? Does it make you upset, worried or anxious? If I met with you in person, I’d be asking you these and many other questions related to your “obsession.” Basically it would be helpful to know more about what bothers you about those hospital stays. Knowing this information would help me to determine whether your behavior is “abnormal.”

With regard to researching your disorders, I don’t necessarily think this activity is abnormal. It’s wise to read about the disorders that you were diagnosed with. You just have to be sure that you don’t go “overboard” with what you learn. Don’t panic if you read something that frightens you. Not all of what you read will apply to you. Maybe none of it applies to you. Also realize that even if you were given a diagnosis (or several) it doesn’t always mean that it was correct. If you were evaluated by 10 psychiatrists you might receive 10 different diagnoses. The psychiatric diagnostic process is not an exact science.

It’s not advisable to abruptly stop counseling. From your letter it seems as though that is what you did. Generally speaking, I would say counseling would be needed if you feel depressed, out of control or suicidal. If you cannot function day-to-day then this is a sign that counseling may be needed. I also think that if you are repeatedly hospitalized counseling would most likely be advisable. If you found a good counselor who you liked and trusted maybe you’d find therapy helpful. I’d encourage you to try counseling again especially if you can’t stop obsessing. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Do I Need Counseling?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/16/do-i-need-counseling/

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