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Personal Growth
When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems

How do you know if you need counseling or psychotherapy? Sometimes it’s absolutely clear to you and those around you that you’re experiencing a serious crisis or mental illness. In most instances though, the need is less apparent. In general, emotional problems arise because there is an important difference between what we would like our life to be and how life actually is. This discrepancy can also be called a loss.

The loss may be one that has already occurred, is happening now, or is anticipated in the future. The loss may be not getting a job that you counted on; or the loss may be the death of a closed friend or relative. A lack of confidence is a loss of a sense of identity. Feeling that we are not what we can be or want to be as persons is experienced as a loss.

Whenever we sense a loss we are likely to react with any of a variety of responses. You may suffer dramatic mood shifts, constant fatigue, a drastic change in eating habits, persistent guilt feelings, and/or insomnia. There may be a recurring, irrational sense of panic, or the persistent, overwhelming feeling of doom. Constant physical ailments such as headaches, rashes, or backaches my have psychological causes. Or the problems may be in marriage and family relationships, or in excessive drinking or drug abuse.

If we look at our strong emotional reactions as a way we are handling some loss, we have a way of understanding what we are experiencing with our personal problems. For example, I may feel angry when I am first confronted with a loss. I may feel guilty and depressed when I am losing something important to me. The loss could be a job, a relationship, a promotion, or even a role such as the loss a parent feels when their children grow-up and leave home.

When your emotional problems are overwhelming you to the point of spending several hours a day thinking about them, you should consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional such as a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or marriage & family therapist can offer you objective exploration and assessment of your problems.

Dr. Kathy Marshack can help you. She is accepting new clients and has an easy-to-get-to Portland office for your convenience. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area (or can drive to this location) please call to set up your first appointment. See

Therapy FAQs for more information. Please give us a call at (360) 256-0448 or (503) 222-6678 or email us at info@kmarshack.com.

Remember, through professional counseling, you goal is to come to understand yourself better so that you can deal with your losses in a healthy way.