“Self-help is about knowing when you can ‘DIY’ and when you need professional help.”

^^^^^You can quote me on that! ^^^^^

I keep an eye on my “Visitors are reading these posts TODAY” area and if a post comes up that I haven’t read in a while, I re-read it. Such was the case for “Remember this one? – Healing the Shame that Binds You“.

I read that line – the one in the title above and thought… OMG, I *said* that? Wow! I need to remember it!

This whole blog is a testament to the thought. And, to be honest, sometimes figuring out when you can and when you cannot DIY can be tricky. <<< That’s why it deserves a whole new post of its own.

So, here we be!

First, a reminder and caveat: I am not a doctor or therapist. I am just a regular person who happens to have read a bazillion self-help (and other) books and websites and has my own gig here, too. I’ve learned a thing or two.

Everything I share below is from my “60+ years of learnin'” file. You can take that to the bank, if thoughts were dollars, or something like that!

Throughout the blog space, I have pointed you this way or that, and sure, some of what I say may be *exactly* the same as those much wiser and/or schooled and credentialed. That comes from the school-of-life and book learnin’ and -perhaps- a bit o’ luck.

The quote above is an amalgamation of all – as is the rest of this post – BTDT, as they say.

Okay, let’s roll!

How will you know when self-help isn’t enough?

Let’s begin with some subjects that are RED FLAGS and should lead you to a professional:

  • Danger – If you are in danger from outside sources.
  • Danger – If you are the person endangering (this includes yourself, animals and/or humans).
  • Self-harm – which includes anything from cutting to biting your fingernails or toenails until they bleed, to bodily manipulation (for pain).
  • Anorexia and/or Bulimia (and I would add Obesity, as it is the other side of the eating disorder(ed) coin).
  • Significant Mental Health Event – Hallucinations, delusions, or hearing a voice in your head or outside of yourself that cannot be identified.
  • Childhood sexual molestation of any kind – whether you remember or not, do not attempt to heal this with a book. *WON’T* happen.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse – In fact, I would say most addictions. In my opinion, as a person who has struggled with addictions and is still addicted to food, you need to get sober (or whatever word applies to your specific addiction) first, then you can use AA or other valuable resources (including self-help books) to maintain.

Going in, what should you know and do?

  • First and foremost, have compassion for YOURSELF.
  • Know that this (whatever *this* is) will take time.
  • Baby steps are not only acceptable; they are easier to follow and you’re less likely to quit.
  • Whether it is self-care or professional care, there is no “one size fits all” answer.
  • The road is not straight. You will go forward, sideways and backwards. The point is to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going forward.
  • “Slow and steady wins the race” when it comes to emotional healing.
  • Surround yourself with people and things that support your journey, if possible (and even if it’s not). Move away from people and things that do NOT. For example, if you are an alcoholic and live above a bar, you’re risking a relapse BIG TIME.

How to pick a therapist:

  • Write out questions for the potential therapist before you make that first appointment. For example: Are you spiritual? <<< Your questions will reflect your beliefs, wants and needs. Be open to new ideas but don’t cross your own (very personal) ethical lines. For example: If you are a strong Christian, you will want a Christian therapist who will understand why prayer is an important part of your recovery process.
  • Know that not every therapist will be a good match.
  • Are you more comfortable with a man/ woman or doesn’t matter? Be honest with yourself.
  • If don’t have insurance coverage and need a sliding scale for payment, be sure to ask.
  • Be prepared to talk.
  • Be prepared to work.

Of note: There is a foundational plan of action regarding the relationship between client and therapist called The Therapeutic Alliance. You can read about it here: Long detailed version. I like this easier-to-read Short version that basically says that clients and therapists share a sacred bond of connection that MUST be there in order for healing to occur. This is SO TRUE! I have seen excellent therapists and crappy one’s… and a couple who fall in between.

Here’s an example of a crappy therapist – it was for my daughter when she was a teenager. The therapist was assigned to us through insurance – and I know insurance can be a god-send or a scourge, depending, which is why you need to come prepared with your questions for your first appointment to weed them out, if necessary. Also, it make take one or two sessions to flesh them out… be patient.

But I digress.

My daughter and I went in together first and then I left the room. Then, I was called back in.

“Daughter has something to tell you,” the therapist said.

I turned to my daughter.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

I was dumbfounded because I didn’t think she was having sex yet. We talked about EVERYTHING and I was VERY OPEN about sex, hoping my children would not harm their bodies or their self-worth as I had when I was young.

I sat with my mouth open.

“Not really,” my daughter said. “I’ve been truant from school.”

“What?” <<< Picture me with my mouth agape.

The therapist chimed in, “See. It wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.”

Holy eff-word!!! Was she serious? THIS is the way she conducted therapy sessions?

We never went back.

You’ll usually know fairly quickly if a therapist is not a good fit.


Listen to your gut! (Although, not to be obtuse, but your gut may be on holiday because that sometimes happens when you’re in trauma.)

Finally, here are some things and times you can DO IT YOURSELF (DIY) and there are excellent books, websites, and YouTubes to guide you (both here on this blog and out there at book sellers):

  • Personal Development.
  • Raising Self-esteem.
  • Strengthening your brain through the ageing process.
  • Dream interpretation.
  • Learning about crystals, tarot cards, chakras and other “new age” subjects.
  • Strengthening an already healthy relationship.
  • Managing your career.
  • Journalling.
  • Art therapy.
  • Taking care of your body in general (and specific issues that have previously been diagnosed by a physician like Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity and even Cancer. There are tons of great resources out there! You will want to check in with your specialists, especially if there are changes as you go along).
  • Taking care of your emotional and mental health in general (Like above ^^^ if you have issues that have previously been diagnosed by a professional like ADHD, Bipolar, Anxiety and/or Depression, there are tons of great resources for these issues that can be done at home, as well. I would suggest them in concert with a professional, however, since things like Depression can sneak up on you and shove you right on your ass! By then, it’s possibly too late to recover quickly or easily and definitely not by yourself.)

The point with ALL OF THIS is…

There are times you CAN DIY and there are times when you CANNOT.

When you CAN… go for it!

When you CANNOT… ask for help!

If I’ve missed anything, please let me know! I was going (typing) kind of stream-of-consciousness … and I may have missed something important! This is – after all – a VAST subject. A very NECESSARY one, too. Especially for this Whisperer and her followers!

Oh, and… Happy Easter, everyone! Hope you can enjoy this beautiful spring day!


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