It helps prevent them
Suzanne* and Mark* have been arguing over how he meets his buddies for drinks after
work. From her perspective, he is prioritising his friends over her. Suzanne is frustrated about how little they communicate, and suggests that they go for counselling but Mark refuses. Feeling hopeless, she is seriously considering divorce.
Stories like Suzanne and Mark’s may seem familiar. Individuals often consider counselling only as a last resort, after they have failed to resolve problems on their own or when problems affect their work or relationships. Covid-19 has forced families to be together for long hours, exacerbating seething tensions. The past two years have also seen rising numbers of divorce applications and reports of family violence. Incidentally, more people in Singapore have also sought counselling.
Should we only seek help when we are close to breaking point?
Social stigma of getting therapy
The reluctance to seek help early might have something to do with the social stigma long associated with counselling, that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness.
But if we thought about our physical health in the same way, is it a sign of weakness to see a doctor when we are unwell? Or should we consider medical treatment only at the brink of collapse?
Perhaps it is time to look at counselling as a form of preventive or supportive care too rather than purely remedial. If conducted before problems fester, counselling can build up mental resilience and possibly avert interpersonal crises.
Timely preventive counselling can help
Preventive counselling should take place when we are aware that there is a problem but find that it is still manageable enough to discuss and work through amicably.
One sign could be how often the same argument comes up or how easily we lose our temper. Children and adolescents also show signs that they are not coping well when they verbalise stress or fears, frequently cry over high-stakes events such as national exams, have regular nightmares, or lose sleep or appetite.
Help is at hand
Families remain the closest support system for many in Singapore. Preventive counselling and therapy can strengthen families to weather another crisis like Covid-19 in the future.
Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) recently introduced the Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centre (FAM@ FSC) initiative. An initiative of the Ministry of Social and Family Development, trained counsellors, family therapists and social workers at MWS FAM@FSC provide services and support to couples and families with early risks and stressors.
Know someone who may benefit from this? Find out more by visiting mws.sg/centre-location/famfsc.
*Names used in this commentary are pseudonyms.
This article is adapted from a commentary penned by Yeow Ming Zhen, Head of Strengthening Families Programme@Family Service Centre at Methodist Welfare Services, and first published in ChannelNewsAsia.com
By the Methodist Welfare Services Communications Team/ Photo courtesy of Methodist Welfare Services