Do I have too many issues for counseling?

I have so many issues to address. I have a history of sexual abuse, I’m a breast cancer survivor and I am a lifetime insomniac.

I have a long history of depression and I’m beginning to have anxiety. I have low self esteem but I’ve been happily married for almost 35 years.

I’ve never had counseling about any of this. Do I have too many issues to address in counseling?

Heather Bradley
Heather Bradley
Helping you heal from trauma and live meaningful lives

It is never too late to get help and begin making significant changes and improvements in your life.  The right time is when you feel ready and open to change.  Sometimes when we have a history of trauma, like sexual abuse, the impact of that trauma can affect many areas of our lives as adults.  Working with a therapist who specializes in trauma is a great way to begin developing skills to manage present day life, learn to regulate your emotions and nervous system when you become triggered, and then in a safe environment have the opportunity to process past traumas so you can live your present life with more ease and joy.  People can and do recover from the impacts of trauma at any stage in their life.  It is never too late and you can feel better

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sara Makin, M.S.Ed.,NCC
Sara Makin, M.S.Ed.,NCC
#1 Best Selling Author & Counselor

You have been through so much and it sounds like you have a lot of things that have complied over the years. Regardless of the struggles you have been through, you do not have too many issues for counseling. Many times when someone starts out their counseling and healing journey, there are multiple things they would like to address and work on. If you decide to start counseling, you and your therapist can decide collaboratively what you would like to process and work on first. Be sure to express to your counselor if any of the above experiences you've been through is causing a lot of distress , as many times the first things addressed are the ones that are presently affecting your life or you emotionally. 

Often times when we experience negative situations in our life , but do not address them, they bottle up inside us and can manifest in other ways, such as depression or even physical symptoms like IBS or neck pain.  Counseling can give these bottled up emotions and situations a release. Given the situation you shared, not only do I not think that you have too many issues for counseling, but believe that you will be a great candidate and can get a lot from it.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Shakeeta Torres
Shakeeta Torres
Faith Based Mental Health Counselor

Absolutely not.  I strongly recommending working on one issue/need at a time.  In therapy you will set smart goals and objectives that will help you reach your goals.  I see you as a survivor and not a victim.  Best wishes to you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Wendy Mita
Wendy Mita
Worry less, live more!

Absolutely not!  In fact, most people have many issues,  A lot lot of the issues you are describing commonly go hand in hand ( in "therapy speak" we call it co-morbid conditions)

I would venture that most of the feelings you are struggling with stem from your early trauma.  You would benifit tremendously from counseling!  A good therapist will develope a treatment plan that addresses all of your needs. With help you could definitely live a happy life without all of your anxiety and depression getting in the way!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Danielle Joel
Danielle Joel
Compassionate Mental Health Care

This is a great question! I personally don't believe that any client could ever have too many issues for counseling. In fact, that type of thinking may be stopping you from seeking counseling, so it may be hindering you from getting the help you need. In fact, all of what you described points to the importance of you seeking help in order to cope with the many challenges in your life. 

If you seek counseling, it will be important for you to understand that you may need to remain in counseling for a sustained period of time in order to work through each of these issues. All of these issues won't be able to be solved right away or in a brief period of time. Counseling will take commitment and hard work, but it is possible for you to recover and heal from all of the issues you described.

Many clients come into counseling with numerous issues rather than just one particular thing. Most of the time, the issues relate to and exacerbate each other. We call these "comorbid" conditions, which means that two or more mental health problems exist at one time. A lot of the times, when you start to work on one issue, the other issues get better as a result.

I encourage you to find a professional therapist that can help you learn how to cope with all of the mental health difficulties that you described. You deserve the help just as much as anyone else. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

There are never too many issues in living. In a way we take on too many issues at one time. Then we become over whelmed with "anxiety and depression."  A skillful, caring therapist will help you find a place to start and deal with one issue at a time. when this helps the other issues. Then the other issues become more manageable. I gain. confidence I can take on life better and, importantly , enjoy living life more. My best to you. Dr. Spencer

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dawn M. Reilly, Psy.D.
Dawn M. Reilly, Psy.D.
It's never too late

There are never "too many issues" to be addressed in therapy.  Most people come in with multiple issues they want to address.  The wonderful thing about therapy, is that often, as one or more significant issues begin to change and improve-   the lead naturally without much effort to improvements in the other areas.  (For example, as you begin to address trauma and betrayal from you past, you may find that the insomnia improves). Your therapist, with you input and direction, can help you to prioritize which problem areas to target first.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Michael Greene
Michael Greene
Therapy That Focuses on Root Causes

You can be helped. Many of the people I see have multiple issues. These issues are often linked so that helping one issue will positively help the other issues.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
David Klein
David Klein
Humanistic Psychotherapy for Individuals & Couples

The short answer is: absolutely not!

The longer answer is that it might take some time to process all of the issues, and it may feel quite "muddy" in the issues for a lot longer than is tolerable (which is why counseling may have been postponed to begin with for you.) It's important to be realistic when entering counseling of any sort, and that the therapist be realistic with you about what you might be able to expect working with that person (I use the words "might be able to expect" because therapy experiences can vary.) But that not having counseling about trauma that you have experienced much earlier in your life can play a significant role in the process and how long that process could take to unpack all that may have been buried over time.

It might also be helpful in counseling to work with the therapist on figuring out where to begin, but to also manage the feelings of being overwhelmed that may make it hard to continue to show up and do the work required, week in and week out. It isn't easy work trying to process past pain that you experienced, and so consistent practice of self-care, including leaning on support systems outside of therapy, is key.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Amanda Babineau-LaRose
Amanda Babineau-LaRose
Counseling related to depression, anxiety, aging, grief and loss, medical illness, and adjustment to changes across the lifespan.

Usually people who struggle with depression also have symptoms of anxiety. These symptoms come about as a result of underlying causes. The obstacles you have been overcoming such as abuse, cancer and insomnia likely bring about similar feelings and emotions in you which affect your self-esteem. Counseling is meant to support people who have layers of difficulties. We see the difficulties as layers to an onion, peeling away the many layers.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Danielle Ruquet
Danielle Ruquet
Find your Inner Peace!

Often times when an individual begins the counseling process it is revealed that there is more than one thing going on. When we think about how much is wrong, it can be overwhelming and we may not know where to even start. Counseling can provide guidance to help you to begin working toward healing in a way that is most helpful for you to reach your goals.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jennifer Molinari
Jennifer Molinari
Hypnotherapist & Licensed Counselor

It is very common for people to have multiple issues that they want to (and need to) address in counseling.  I have had clients ask that same question and through more exploration, there is often an underlying fear that they  "can't be helped" or that they will "be too much for their therapist." I don't know if any of this rings true for you. But, most people have more than one problem in their lives and more often than not,  people have numerous significant stressors in their lives.  Let's face it, life can be complicated! Therapists are completely ready and equipped to handle all of the issues small or large that a client presents in session. Most therapists over the first couple of sessions will help you prioritize the issues you are facing so that you start addressing the issues that are causing you the most distress.  You can never have too many issues to address in counseling.  All of the issues you mention above can be successfully worked through in counseling. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Tina Wallis
Tina Wallis
Helping people get "unstuck"

Absolutely not! When we have the courage to accept the challenge to address whatever is causing us pain, the solutions often generalize to many, if not all of our symptoms. I would suggest that unresolved trauma from sexual abuse is likely a primary contributing factor. However, it is important that you first build a trusting relationship with a therapist experienced in trauma treatment as this is an area of specialty that not all therapists are skilled in treating. Choosing one issue to work on, such as anxiety or depressive symptoms, and starting there will allow you the opportunity to get to know your therapist, learn coping skills for managing distressing symptoms, and establish emotional safety before jumping into trauma work. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jeanette Razo-Gonzalez
Jeanette Razo-Gonzalez
Little Steps Giant Leaps

Hello there,

No one has too many issues to address in counseling. Once you start counseling, your therapist will help you identify which issues to start working on first and which are causing you the most distress. Once you and your therapist prioritize your concerns, you can start to address each concern, starting with the one causing the most distress for you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Rachelle Miller
Rachelle Miller
Mental health therapist, parent educator, life coach

It sounds like you are feeling pretty overwhelmed. But you are also a survivor and have the benefit of a long, stable marriage. You do not have too many issues to address in counseling. A good therapist will help you to partialize your goals into smaller objectives and focus in on what's most pressing for you to address first in treatment. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Amelia Mora Mars
Amelia Mora Mars
Hi, I'm Amelia. I help overwhelmed, stressed out teen girls and women find peace again.

Hello! You may have heard the saying that counseling is like peeling the layers of an onion. Whether a person comes to therapy with many issues on their heart and mind or whether he/she comes with something specific, one issue leads to another. Please don't feel as though you have too many issues. You are important and worthy. On the plus side,  you are a breast cancer survivor and have a wonderful marriage! Seek the help that you deserve. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

You do not have too many issues to address in counseling.  And your perseverance will serve you well if you choose to engage in therapy.  The trauma and medical event you experienced topped off with chronic sleepless nights would lead to feelings of depression for many.  The emotional reaction you've had to these experiences sounds normal albeit troublesome and I would imagine intensely painful at times as well.  Therapy can help prioritize what is the most impactful issue you are grappling with.  I find in therapy that when the central issue is revealed, understood, processed, and understood again in its current context, many other areas of the person's internal experience improve.  It sounds as though something has prevented you from seeking help from a counselor in the past, and it sounds as though you are more seriously considering it now.  Therapy helps and it can help you when you're ready.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jessica Cline
Jessica Cline
Specialist in Divorce Recovery

Thank you for sharing your history. You do not have too many issues to address in counseling. It will help to prioritize what you would like to work on first in therapy. Your therapist will create a treatment plan with you, which can always be changed while working together. Therapy is a process in working towards your best life, and you deserve it.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Adriana Dyurich
Adriana Dyurich
COUNSELING, WELLNESS, AND CONSULTING for for Moms, moms to be and their children

Not at all! Whatever issues you might have you can bring to the therapy room. Remember therapy is about YOU, not your therapist. You bring whatever you need to bring to the table. Keep in mind these issues are likely related. Remember you are a holistic being, more than just the sum of the parts. Just like any system, when you move something in one area, things start changing in other areas as well. Talk to your therapist to decide goals for counseling and establish priorities, and ENJOY THE RIDE! Growing, flourishing, and finally letting go of what hurts can be a beautiful and exciting process.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Emily Sullivan
Emily Sullivan
Health & Wellness Counseling, Individual & Couples Psychotherapy
You absolutely do not have "too many issues" for counseling. Your reaching out to ask this question shows you have a resilient spirit. Also, your happy marriage can be a support and strength to you as you embark on a counseling journey. I would recommend that you find a counselor who specializes in trauma, sexual trauma and/or EMDR (a type of therapy that is proven to have a strong impact on healing from trauma). Good luck!
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry
Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry
www.GwendolynNelsonTerry.com

I don't think you have too many issues for counseling.  If a client came to me for help with the same issues that you have listed here I would first want them to meet with their doctor to get a physical to rule out any biological causes to your depression, anxiety, and insomnia.  I would work with you on deciding which of these issues to tackle first.  I usually suggest starting with the issue that is easiest.  Reading through your symptoms I might choose anxiety to start with since you are in the early stages of it.  I like to give my client skills they can use right away, so I would focus on teaching you breathing exercises to manage the anxiety as well as cognitive restructuring so that when an anxious thought pops up you can talk yourself through it.  Once you felt that you had some control over the anxiety I'd start to work on some of your other concerns, but I would seek your input on what you felt like might be good to work on next.  My gut is that some of these issues would be resolved as you worked on others.  For example as you worked on your anxiety and began to process your trauma and as you began to work on self care and getting more sleep - your self esteem would probably improve.  I encourage you to meet with a therapist and ask them how they might be able to help you.  These are just some thoughts that came up for me on how I might help someone with the same or similar symptoms.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

The way it goes is that all your issues are connected. Once you work on one issue it will have a positive effect on all areas. Slowly each issue is addressed and actually less issues will need to be addressed directly since resolving one helps your overall wellness. So no, you do not have too many issues. Don’t give up. Get help now and see how your life can change for the better. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFT
Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFT
Specialist in Women's Mental Health

I think this is a very common question that people who have never been to counseling before have.  There is a lot of anxiety in going to counseling for the first time.  This is normal.  In answer to your  question, the answer is an absolute NO!  An important thing to remember about getting counseling is that it is a courageous first step towards hope and healing.  Getting help is like training to run a marathon, it is not a sprint.  You have shared a lot of issues that you are dealing with from your past, that are now negatively impacting your present, but I believe that in getting the right kind of help and support, none of them are impossible to overcome.  

Part of the therapeutic process is defining and prioritizing therapy goals.  In collaboration with you, as a client, a therapist is there to help you with this process in determining what you would like to work on first.  Not getting counseling, based on the history you have shared, has the potential to put you more at risk for mental and physical health issues.  You are already seeing this happen as you begin to experience new symptoms, namely your anxiety.  In therapy, you will gain understanding and insight, as well as learn skills and strategies to manage the symptoms you are experiencing.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to reach out to a licensed counselor who has experience in treating trauma, grief/loss and will address shame.  These are three areas that I have found that gets to  the core issues that are contributing to your depression and anxiety.   I believe you can get the help you need to find hope and healing.  Best of luck to you!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC
Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC
Pathways to Healing & Recovery, LLC "Where your voice is heard"

Hello, I'm so glad you decided to take the first step in opening a conversation first. Deciding to go to therapy can sometimes be difficult for some, but with the right therapist, healing is possible and obtainable, even with what you've described. To answer your question, no you do not have too many issues to go to counseling.  You've been through a lot and have been strong and at times it's helpful to have someone else to help you through it. 

What I would say is to be sure and find a therapist who is experienced in sexual abuse and trauma overall. But you absolutely do not have too many issues for counseling. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have regarding your situation and I hope you find the therapist you're looking for, there are many great ones out there. Many of the issues you're experiencing may be tied together from the trauma. 

Best Wishes. 

Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Tamara Powell
Tamara Powell
Anything But Ordinary!

Not at all my dear. 

Human beings are complex creatures, and in my opinion, our issues interconnect in a very nuanced web between our levels of being (for example, mind, body, and spirit). Everything you bring up affects all three. The truly beautiful thing about the human body is that when you begin to work on one, the others improve as well!

I would encourage you to seek out a counselor who's style and approach speaks to you and start with whichever issue feels most pressing to you. A skilled therapist will flow with you at your own pace and make recommendations to other professionals (e.g., physicians, holistic practitioners, EMDR specialists for trauma etc) as needed to complement the psychotherapy work you're doing with him or her to help you find the total healing you seek. 

I wish you well on your journey! 


The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Everyone has topics to discuss when they start therapy.   There is no correct number of topics.you

Sometimes people go to therapy for one specific area of their life.   

Not everyone has the time or interest to utilize therapy just when a significant topic arises in their life.

Since you are one person, no matter how many or few topics you would like to address in therapy, all the topics relate to you.

Possibly the result of your therapy will be more transformational than if you talked only on one topic.  

Lucky you, to be on the cusp of clearing and resolving many vulnerabilities at once.   You will feel brand new by the time you finish your therapy work!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Submit your own question

More Answers