You may very well. And if you feel confident that you’re moving in the right direction at an acceptable pace, don’t come for counseling. It’s normal and desirable to be distressed by a stressful event, and most people do cope on their own most of the time. Deciding to ask for help is such an individual issue. Some people do it naturally, others feel uncomfortable. Only you can know how it feels to you.
Even so, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the feedback you’re getting from those close to you. If several people are worried about you, it’s worth asking yourself whether you might benefit from counseling. In addition, crisis counseling can help you use the crisis constructively and come out of it stronger and wiser than you went in.
You may have already guessed that I’ll answer “That’s an individual matter.” Sorry, but it is. You might feel after three sessions that you’ve regrouped, calmed down and are coping a lot better. You might find that important issues from the present or the past are coming up, and you want to take the time to explore them. You might find that paying attention to what’s happening with you has raised questions about how you’re living that you want to address. We can’t know in advance.
It’s impossible to draw a definitive boundary between them, but there are differences. Crisis counseling takes its orientation and tools from therapy, and adjusts them to its particular goals. The goal of counseling is resolving the present perturbation and returning to one’s satisfactory, pre-crisis state, whereas the goal of therapy is personality change (leading to behavior change). Therefore counseling is characteristically time-limited, while therapy (as I define it) is open-ended. Because the goal is clearly defined and more limited, the counselor tends to be more directive than a therapist.
Counseling will explore issues from the past with the express purpose of freeing up current coping energies; therapy will explore them for their own sake. Counseling can be a prelude to therapy, when the process of self awareness leads to a desire for wider or deeper change. Or it can be a concentrated learning experience—a form of empowerment
First of all, I want to make it very clear that delving into the past does not always mean “finding the guilty party.” This attitude...