Sooner or later every one of us will want to find a solution to our suffering. Our problems seem to never end and there must be a way to resolve them for the sake of our sanity. Getting help with our problem(s) from a professional can be of great benefit. Here on this page is information on how to get started.
Opening up to someone about how you are feeling is the first step. This is often the hardest part, depending on the situation. We also fear how the person we choose to open up to will react to our “situation” or what’s going on. Then there is additional fear of people’s long-term opinions of us and thoughts of how life might get worse when all we want is for it to get better. We need to find the courage and ground to stand up for ourselves as individuals because we all have the fundamental right to be happy even when we don’t think we do.
Typical responsible older people to open up to:
Family: Parents, Aunt/Uncle, Grandparents
Church/religious body: clergy (minister) or pastor you feel comfortable with
School: teachers you trust/comfortable with, guidance counselor, principal
Extra-curricular: Sports team coach, team doctor
Other: Personal/Family doctor or physician
If you are at a university or college here are some additional possibilities:
School counseling center or
School health center/hospital
If you are the age 21 or older: A friend
It takes maturity and understanding to get help from someone when you open up to them about your problems. Therefore it is recommended that you only talk to friends if they are of the age 21 or older. Otherwise friends are great listeners and can empathize very well, but they may not know where to direct you to find additional/professional help.
The idea here is to find someone who can help you validate if you feelings warrant further investigation or if you are able to work them out yourself when talking to someone who is actually listening and giving light advice.
The type of person who can best help varies from case to case. In any situation though, someone to talk to and reflect ideas off of helps us better see the light. In terms of professional help there are various people who you can typically work with:
A psychiatrist is actually a medical doctor (MD or Osteopathy, DO -- just like your physician) who has received an additional FOUR years of specialized mental-health training. They have the most breadth and depth of knowledge (they treat the full range) of emotional and mental disorders. They are also able to prescribe medication in addition to having counseling sessions with patients.
A psychologist has a doctorate degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) in psychology and has completed several years of supervised practice. They are not medical doctors and by default cannot prescribe medication. However some states do allow psychologist to prescribe medication (Louisiana and New Mexico).
This is simply your personal medical doctor (MD) or physician you currently see for all your medical needs. You can ask your physician for advice on or a referral to a psychologist or therapist you can see.
Psychotherapist (a.k.a. “Therapist”)
A psychotherapist is your traditional therapist or counselor. They do not prescribe medication. They provide counseling sessions wherein you talk with them about your issues and they help you find key answers to problems in the life of the patient.
Psychoanalysis is a in-depth form of therapy which concentrates on the conscious and unconscious wishes of the client. A psychoanalyst is a person who has completed a state-approved training program, had supervised experience, and undergone self-analysis.
Essentially same thing as a psychotherapist/therapist except with more short-term intentions. One may seek out a counselor if they have one specific issue they need help with. A counselor will help the person focus on the issue and find improvement in life relatively quickly.
People employed in social work provide support and counseling to individuals and families who are undergoing some type of social difficulty or crisis. Such situations might include unemployment, poverty, substance abuse or legal trouble.
Other places you can go
Employee assistance program
Many larger companies have special assistance programs where employees can privately speak with someone (from outside of the company) about personal life issues for little to no cost. They are also known as employee assistance help lines.
Family or Social Service agency
Local agencies which work to provide social or family services can provide you someone to talk with about problems and receive further referral if needed.
Health insurance provider/Health maintenance organizations (HMO)
Your health insurance provider may have setup a 24/7 help line for medical advice (a.k.a. "Nurse line"). This line may also serve for referral advice to seek immediate help if you need to talk to someone fast. Check with your health insurance company for availability.