By Christine Murray, Healthy Relationships Initiative Director

Sometimes, the support of friends and family members, along with your own coping resources, can only go so far in helping you to navigate really difficult and chaotic relationship challenges.

Counseling or therapy can be helpful at any time in your relationship, but they can be a critical source of support when you face relationship problems that affect you to your core. Some signs that it might be time to reach out for professional help include the following:

  • You and/or the other person feel like you’ve tried everything you can do in your power to solve the situation, but you don’t see any progress.
  • You’ve noticed unhealthy or unsafe relationship behaviors creeping into your relationship. (Note: Any form of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse or violence should be taken very seriously in a relationship. In relationships in which any form of violence is present, couples counseling is not recommended due to safety reasons. Individual counseling can provide support for the victim/survivor, and a domestic violence perpetrator intervention is recommended for anyone who uses abusive behaviors in the context of a relationship.)
  • You’ve developed mental health symptoms, such as anxiety or depressive symptoms, especially if they become more severe and frequent.
  • You’re failing to take care of yourself, such as by eating a nutritious diet or getting a healthy amount of sleep.
  • Thoughts of your relationship problems feel like they’re taking over your mind. You find yourself distracted and unable to focus on your work or other responsibilities.
  • You feel overwhelmed by the situation and confused about what to do.

It’s normal to feel embarrassed to reach out for professional help. Remind yourself: “It’s a sign of strength to have the courage to seek the help I need.” A trained professional can provide valuable support, such as helping you to process your feelings and thoughts, develop new relationship skills, connect your current situation with significant past events in your life, and gain new insights into your situation.

Whether you seek help individually or with your partner, trained professionals can provide valuable, instrumental support as you face crises and chaos in your relationships.

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