Is It Time to Go to Therapy?
Therapy isn’t for me.
I don’t need to talk to a stranger about my problems.
I just need to get through this and then everything will be fine.
These are common phrases I hear people use when they are going through a rough patch and someone suggests therapy. We all go through tough times, but it can be hard to know in some situations whether or not therapy could be helpful. In addition, therapy can seem intimidating (though I promise it’s not!).
In reality, different people deal with the same situation in different ways. Some people find that they can cope with the death of a loved one on their own, while other people find it helpful to process their grief in therapy. Others may have a clear direction of where they want to go career-wise while, others may appreciate the insights a therapist can provide when it comes to life transitions.
The truth is, it can be hard to admit that you need help. Whether it’s your pride, misconceptions about therapy, or you’re just plain scared, there are many reasons why people avoid going to therapy. Many psychotherapy clients I work with tell me that they wished they had gone to therapy much sooner but let their fear hold them back for too long.
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s time to try therapy, here are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s impacting your daily functioning
If what you are experiencing impacts your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, seeking outside support might be a wise choice. That includes your ability to fulfill all of your responsibilities, taking care of your general health, getting enough sleep, having a healthy appetite, having normal energy levels, and maintaining your typical mood. When any of these things are negatively affected by what you are struggling with, your daily functioning is impacted.
That level of impact could look like having trouble getting out of bed in the morning because you are too anxious or because you are too sad. It could look like avoiding certain places, situations, or people because they trigger unpleasant emotions or symptoms (public speaking, concerts with large crowds, etc.). It could also look like feeling preoccupied for most of the day about something that is bothering you (losing a loved one, dealing with a breakup, a stressful work situation, etc.) If you find that your daily life is being overshadowed by what you are struggling with, a therapist can help you start to sort things out and provide treatment.
It’s a recurring issue
Another sign that it might be time to work with a therapist is if you are experiencing some kind of life stressor that is a recurring issue. For example, perhaps your job requires you to give presentations frequently but it’s a task that leads to a lot of anxiety — learning some strategies for minimizing your pre-presentation anxiety could be extremely useful. Or perhaps you find yourself making the same mistake in relationships over and over again. A therapist could help you explore those patterns and identify helpful changes you can make so that you can find and sustain a happy and healthy relationship. If something unwelcome keeps popping up in your life, therapy is an ideal setting to explore healthy ways of handling it.
Others have expressed concern
This is where your pride can get in the way. Let’s say you’re going through a really stressful time at school or work. You’re trying to power through but find yourself increasingly exhausted and feeling isolated. Your family and friends try to gently suggest that maybe you’re pushing yourself too hard and that it might be a good idea to get out of the toxic environment that you’re in, but you defensively brush their words aside. Sometimes it can be hard to admit that your family and friends are speaking the truth, but they have a valuable perspective because they know you so well. Set aside your pride, take their advice, and enlist the help of a trained professional to help you figure out how to regain balance in your life and with your emotional health.
You need a sounding board
Therapy isn’t just for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It’s also an ideal place to explore any patterns you’ve noticed in your life; address any fears you might have about your past, present, and future; or learn better ways to take care of yourself. Sometimes, you just need a sounding board to help you figure out how you think and feel about what’s happening in your life — the confidential setting of therapy and your therapist’s training can offer that.
If you decided that you want to give therapy a try, check out these tips for finding a therapist and educate yourself on what to expect in therapy. Don’t let fear of the unknown, your pride, or just plain stubbornness prevent you from taking advantage of the many benefits of therapy.