Are you a long time counseling client who hasn’t really changed your life a whole lot? Maybe you still go because you don’t know what else to do. In this article, I’ll review some ideas about what to do when counseling doesn’t help.

See a Holistic Medical Professional

Some physical issues manifest as emotional or behavioral ones. For example, some symptoms of thyroid dysfunction are fatigue, weight gain, depression, menstrual issues, and memory issues.

Some symptoms of Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) are nausea (particularly in the morning), vomiting, abdominal pain which could be confused with anxiety. Head trauma can look like mental illness. I wouldn’t assume that emotional symptoms have emotional causes or that physical symptoms have physical causes. We are holistic beings.

What’s a “holistic medical professional?” An acupuncturist, functional medicine doctor, an ayurveda practitioner, a homeopath, a chiropractor, or a naturopath are some examples.

Remove Yourself From a Toxic Environment

You can’t get or stay clean if you are wallowing in a mud puddle. While some people may be able to tolerate higher levels of toxicity once they have healed, it’s practically impossible to get healthy while still interacting with the dysfunctional system that you are trying to get away from.

This is why most addicts relapse. It’s a systemic problem, not a personal one.

If you are in a domestic violence relationship, a toxic workplace, or an unhealthy family dynamic, it may be a choice of you or them. Consider saving yourself.

Rule Out Trauma

I’ve had many clients over the years who are deeply traumatized and have no idea. They view their life as normal because they didn’t know any different. Or maybe they think that their traumatic incidents “weren’t that bad” and are “in the past.” Often they think they are functioning fine since they work and have relationships. They are paralyzed by their past.

Some obvious signs of trauma are: nightmares, flashbacks, hyper aware of surroundings, mood swings, insomnia, irritability, prolonged sadness, suicidal thought, and rage.

Some of the less obvious signs of trauma are: becoming easily overwhelmed, not being able to get out of bed, isolation, upset stomach, memory issues, numbing, getting drunk or high, eating issues (binging, not eating, eating too much), tiptoeing around topics, feeling disconnected from others or yourself, anxiety, panic, shame, perfectionism, not sitting still (which can look like ADHD), can’t concentrate (which can look like ADD), irritability, fatigue, sleep issues, chronic pain, having a lot of allergies, being very hard on yourself, people pleasing, and not knowing who you are or what you want.

Talk therapy may make you feel more connected and temporary lift your spirits. It may help you to understand things, but it doesn’t heal trauma. Time doesn’t heal trauma. If you have trauma, you need trauma treatment.

Try a Different Therapist

A lot of therapists sell themselves based upon their skill set. Many clients come to treatment seeking a specific type of therapy. However, research consistently shows that the most important factor in healing is the therapeutic relationship. Without kindness, understanding, and a feeling of safety, the best techniques won’t go very far. And a nice person without skills won’t get you very far either. You need both.

Do Some Homework

Some people come to counseling, plop down in a chair, and say, “Fix me!”

This is not how it works. The transformation takes place outside the therapy office when you take what you learned in session and bring it back to your real life. If you talk about practicing healthy boundaries, actually do it outside the office! If you talk about incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine, you can’t just put it on a to do list and think it’s going to change anything.

Counseling is about supporting and empowering you to change your own life. Health, happiness, and balance isn’t something that is given to you. It’s something you give to yourself. That can’t happen if you aren’t willing to get into the driver’s seat.

All maladaptive behavior is learned. It can be unlearned. If you learned helplessness, pouting, blaming, overreacting, or manipulation, you can learn other strategies that work better for you and lead to healthier relationships. This isn’t something you have to hide from. Own it and grow beyond it.

Everyone has challenges. It’s up to each of us whether we let them keep us down or we choose to rise above them.

Sometimes it’s really tough to advocate for yourself when you don’t know what is wrong or how to fix it. Trust yourself. Ask for what you want. Believe you can be better. It can happen.