There was a time when people rarely sought the help of a psychotherapist; it just wasn’t the norm. Thankfully, things have changed, and there is much less stigma attached to seeking mental health services. Many of my peers see a therapist as a regular part of their mental and emotional health, much like getting regular massages or hiring a personal trainer. For some, therapy is an ongoing supportive element to one’s self-care, for others a few sessions is sufficient to meet their needs.
No one escapes this life without experiencing emotional wounding: life is full of joy and heartache. People respond differently to life’s challenges, with varying degrees of resilience, but we are all human, and suffering affects us all.
So, how do I know if I am just going through a rough patch and spending time with friends, taking a bubble bath, walking my dog, reading self-help books, watching a funny movie, or some other healthy coping tool will help, or if I should seek the assistance of a professional therapist?
Here are 8 clues that you should consider seeing a therapist:
You’re experiencing distress for more than two to three weeks - You feel sad, tearful, angry, and/or highly distressed daily, for most of the day, for more than two to three weeks. You may eventually feel better without counseling, but therapy is likely to speed up the process and teach you strategies you can implement in the future.
You’ve experienced major life events such as the death of a loved one or divorce – These life events can be difficult to manage and even devastating. Having someone help guide you through this emotional storm can be a saving grace.
You’re feeling overwhelmed – Stressors at work and home can get to the level of being completely overwhelming. When overwhelmed, it is sometimes impossible to access the thinking, problem-solving part of our brain – the prefrontal cortex. Counseling can provide you with tools to manage life stressors and remain centered during difficult times.
You are experiencing anhedonia – the inability to feel pleasure. If you no longer feel joy or pleasure from activities that used to make you happy such as walking the dog, spending time with family and friends, eating your favorite meal, playing a sport, pursuing a hobby, etc… this could be a sign of depression, which is often treatable with therapy.
You need help with life skills – Counseling can be helpful for those that need to improve conflict-resolution skills, emotional regulation, interpersonal relationship skills, self-esteem, and other life-related skills. Learning and implementing these skills can be a game changer!
You have family conflicts – If there is discord with your family, family therapy can be invaluable in helping your family system become healthier, reduce conflict, improve communication, and shift unhealthy patterns.
You want to let go of destructive patterns – Do you find yourself continuing to be involved in toxic relationships? Do you self-sabotage right before you get that thing that you have been working towards? If so, therapy can help you discover the source of this wounding, the reasons you have developed these destructive patterns, and teach you skills to change this behavior.
You’ve noticed unhealthy life choices – Do you drink too much? Overeat? If you find that you want to incorporate healthier choices into your life but are having a difficult time making lasting changes? Therapy can provide you with strategies for making lasting change.
While therapy can help you gain insight, provide you with tools, strategies, and resources to make positive change, you are the one that will need to do the work. I cannot guarantee that it will be easy, but if you put in the time and effort while working with a therapist that is a good fit for you, your hard work will be worth it! How do you find a good therapist? Look for an upcoming blog post on how to find a therapist that is right for you.
Helping yourself feel better impacts all areas of your life and affects everyone around you. Putting your mental and emotional needs as a priority allows you to be better equipped to care for your family, be present for your friends, be better positioned to reach your goals, and be more successful at work, etc. And THAT is doing your part to raise the vibration of the planet, one person at a time!