For some people it is very difficult to ask for help even when they are distressed. Why might this be the case? The answer is likely to be complex with several factors at play including the social, cultural and personal.
Attachment theory tries to explain why for some people it does not feel easy to turn to others in times of emotional upset. It focuses on the importance of early developmental experiences in contributing to our capacity (or not) to turn to a trusted other for support. If a child feels repeatedly “let down” by their parents responses to their distress, or if they feel the need to protect their parents, their own emotional needs may be left unattended.
A difficulty in this area is more common than one might imagine and need not not be insurmountable. It can form an important focus in the process of therapy.
Read more in this article from Psychology Today
There are many types of losses in life and everyone responds to these uniquely.
In keeping with this there is little agreement amongst researchers about what is a “normal” length of time to feel the effects of grief. Whilst many people manage the difficulties associated with bereavement without turning to psychotherapy, for others it can provide support at a very difficult and painful time.
Psychotherapy does not to try and “fix” people’s grief, rather it provides the time and space to process the meaning of a person’s loss which in itself can provide much needed relief.
Read one person’s perspective on what he regards as important when trying to help someone who is bereaved.
The above quote comes from the writer George Elliot.
Waddell in her book Inside Lives: Psychoanalysis and the growth of the personality writes about how “development at whatever age is founded in the capacity to go on engaging with the meaning of experience with imagination, courage and integrity.”
The latter part of life can bring several challenges including adjusting to retirement, changes in physical health, caring for relatives and partners, loss and bereavement and much more.
For some people they may not have a clear set of symptoms or problems, rather a sense that they are no longer sure who they are and where they want to go in life. What we might refer to as an existential crisis. Whilst this can seem unsettling it is also an opportunity for personal development.
There are many ways in which clinical psychologists and psychotherapists can help with a variety of challenges that older adults face. This ranges from working with problems at a symptomatic level (e.g. helping someone deal with panic attacks) to more reflective longer term pieces of work, providing the time and space to reflect on issues of role and identity.
Here is an article written by the American Psychological Society on how psychologists can help in various ways:
There has been a growth in recent years of providing online therapy, this short article from the guardian discusses the potential pros and cons https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/feb/19/online-therapy-does-it-work-mental-health