There are many misconceptions about therapy and what factors are “needed” to start going. Sometimes people feel they don’t have issues that are “serious or bad enough” that require seeking professional help. People will often compare their situation to others who “have it worse” and minimize and invalidate their own experiences. Another reason can be due to the stigma around mental health and going to therapy and being viewed as “weak” for doing so.
Therapy isn’t just for people who are in the middle of a major life crisis. Talking to a psychotherapist can help you to sort out your feelings and release pent-up emotions and thoughts that you haven’t felt safe or comfortable to share with anyone else, even your close friends or family members. Therapy can also allow you to talk about day to day issues that add up and gradually start to weigh on us over time.
It may take some consideration before you decide if you’re ready for therapy. You might want to wait and see if time, lifestyle changes, or the support of friends and family improves whatever you’re struggling with. If you experience any of the following emotions or feelings to the extent that they interfere with life, therapy may help you reduce and manage their effects. It’s especially important to consider it’s time to see a therapist if you feel controlled by symptoms or if they could cause harm to yourself or others.
Possible symptoms or signs you might need to see a therapist
Anxious or intrusive thoughts. It’s normal to worry about things from time to time. However, when the thoughts take up a significant part of your day or start to cause physical symptoms, therapy can provide the skills, tools and space to help you deal with it more effectively.
Social withdrawal. Some of us feel better when we’re able to spend at least some time alone to process and decompress from our day. Especially those who are introverted may need even more time alone than others. However, if you notice you’re more distressed around others or fear being with other people, therapy can help you understand and deal with these feelings.
Overwhelmed. You might feel like you have too much on your plate or have too many issues to cope with. This can often lead to avoidance, which ends up harming us more in the long run. Increased stress and being overwhelmed can potentially lead to serious physical health concerns as well.
Fatigue. This physical symptom often results from or accompanies mental health issues and can sometimes indicate depression. Fatigue can cause you to sleep more than usual or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, which may impact work or school responsibilities.
Disproportionate rage, anger, or resentment. Aside from common scenarios that would make someone feel anger or even rage, seeking support to deal with these feelings may be a helpful when they don’t pass, are extreme compared to the situation, or if they lead you to take violent or potentially harmful actions.
Apathy. Losing interest in usual activities you once enjoyed, the world around you, or life in general can indicate mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
Hopelessness. Losing hope or motivation, or feeling as if you have no future, can indicate depression or another mental health issue. Feeling hopeless from time to time, especially after a period of difficulty, isn’t uncommon. But when it persists, it may lead to thoughts of suicide.
Your individual therapy sessions are designed to focus on meeting you where you’re at and what your individual needs are. Even if you feel “fine,” and don’t feel like your current concerns warrant intervention, it’s important to know that therapy is practiced on a spectrum and even the lowest level of intervention can positively impact every single person in some way, whether or not a diagnosable disorder is present.
It's also important to consider viewing therapy as proactive care opposed to taking reactionary measures. If you’re noticing signs of distress, irritability or just feeling like you have too much on your plate – why wait for that feeling to persist and potentially intensify over time? You deserve to take the time to meet with a therapist and tackle these issues before it gets to that point.
The reality is, there isn’t any criteria you need to have checked off to start therapy. Even those who are already self-aware and seem like they don’t “need” therapy still reap major benefits of partaking in therapy on a regular basis. Seeking therapy for mental health is for everyone, regardless of their background and what their presenting problems look like. Even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to therapy quite yet, we offer a free 15 minute confidential call to determine if we’re a good fit for you and your needs.
Megan Philbin, LSW