Thankfully, we live in a day and age where therapy has shed the stigma of only being for ‘crazy’ people. And yet the outdated notion persists that you have to feel awful or have lived in pieces to benefit from counseling.
Most of us face struggles at some point in our lives. These struggles may include stress at work, difficulty with a romantic partner, or problems with a family member. Alternatively, efforts may include emotional symptoms such as depression or anxiety, behavioral issues such as having difficulty throwing useless items away or drinking alcohol too often, and cognitive symptoms such as repetitive upsetting thoughts or uncontrolled worry.
Sometimes, life’s struggles can be eased by taking better care of yourself, and perhaps talking about a supportive friend or family member.
But there may be times when these steps don’t resolve the issue. When this happens, it makes sense to consider seeking the help of a qualified licensed psychologist. How do you know if therapy is needed?
Two general guidelines can be helpful when considering whether you or someone you love could benefit from therapy. First, is the problem distressing? And second, is it interfering with some aspect of life?
When thinking about distress, here are some issues to consider:
Do you or someone close to you spend some amount of time every week thinking about the problem?
Is the problem embarrassing, to the point that you want to hide from others?
Over the past few months, has the problem reduced your quality of life?
When thinking about interference, some other issues may deserve consideration:
Does the problem take up considerable time (e.g., more than an hour per day)?
Have you curtailed your work or educational ambitions because of the problem?
Are you rearranging your lifestyle to accommodate the problem?
A “yes” response to any of these questions suggests that you might wish to consider seeking professional help. Remember that sometimes a problem might be less upsetting to you than it is to the people around you. It does not mean that your friends or family are over-reacting to you. Instead, this situation suggests that you may wish to think about why the people who care about you are upset.
The decision to enter into therapy is a very personal one. Numerous advances have been made in treating psychological disorders in the past decade, and many treatments have been shown scientifically to be helpful. As you think about whether therapy might be beneficial to you, remember that many psychological problems are treatable using short-term therapy approaches.
You are learning more about different approaches to therapy might also help you to discern if one of them sounds like a good fit with your personality and approach to life. Given the range of available therapeutic options, you don’t need to continue to struggle with a problem that is upsetting and getting in the way of other parts of your life. Help is available.
There isn’t an exact, ‘right,’ or single reason to see a therapist; there are many causes for seeking therapy, all equally valid and essential. Nor is there a hierarchy to what issue therapy is best suited for you. We are all unique, and emotional and mental stress is not a mathematical ratio.
Therapy is not at all about blaming others or feeling sorry for yourself. It’s about finding support and clarity to take total responsibility for the choices you have made, which means you can then have the power to make better choices for your future. So if you are ready for that, then you are ready for therapy.
Still asking yourself, ‘do I need counseling?’ If you are not feeling at peace with your life, if you are experiencing stress and anxiety that is overwhelming or sense that having someone to talk to could affect real change in your life, then now is the right time to work with a therapist or counselor.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!