5 Signs It May Be Time for Therapy
23 February 2022
Over the years, I have asked many people what brings them to therapy. It’s probably the most common therapy opener. The specific reasons people start are endless, and while the list might make you feel like you are not alone in your problems, it will not help you decide if it’s time to talk to a therapist. It’s a big decision to make, so getting the inside information on how to decide it’s time for therapy can help you on your way.
I have narrowed it down to 5 signs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more. It’s just a starting point. Now time’s a-wastin’, so let‘s get on with it!
Struggles at Work and Relationships
Everyone has a hard time at work or in relationships as some point in their lives. So how do you know if it’s bad enough to start talking to a professional?
Likewise, feeling depressed and anxious from time to time is a natural part of having a broad range of emotions, how do you know if you are depressed or anxious enough to need therapy?
From the standpoint of diagnosis, nothing is considered a disorder, or outside of the norm, unless it starts affecting some aspect of your life. The areas of your life that tend to matter the most are how you live (work) and who you live with or around (relationships). If something is happening enough that you can’t function well at work or in your relationships, then you may need professional help.
That is, it’s not just that you feel depressed, but that you feel depressed, and you no longer want to see your friends. Or it’s not just that you are anxious, but that you feel anxious, and you are getting to work late because of it and not getting your work done.
If your thoughts and feeling start affecting these areas of your life, it also likely means it’s been going on for a while, not just a day or two. It’s started to take hold. Talking to a therapist can help stop the progression and get you back on track.
Something Needs to Change
There’s this feeling that you have. Maybe you know clearly where it’s coming from, or maybe you aren’t quite sure. What you do know is that your inner voice is telling you something isn’t working anymore. Something needs to change.
What brings this on could be many things. It could be something that has evolved slowly over time and now it’s impossible to ignore, such as a crumbling relationship. It could be something that happened quickly, such learning you will be a grandparent, and good lord, are not ready.
It can be hard to figure out the next steps when this happens. It means trying new things, letting go of old ideas about yourself and other people.
Having someone to talk to during these changes can make a difference. It can help you to keep going even if the way is unclear. It can also help you to find strengths and abilities within yourself that you didn’t know you had.
Nothing Else is Working
This statement may seem like therapy should be a last resort. You’ve tried everything else, and you still aren’t feeling better, so time to see a therapist. This is unfortunate, as often my clients come into therapy and tell me they wish they had come sooner.
It’s normal that we try to sort things out on our own. Or we feel like we don’t have time for ourselves. Or the idea of telling a stranger our problems just seems…like maybe this problem isn’t bad enough yet.
As I mentioned earlier, needing therapy doesn’t mean that you just feel bad. It also means that these bad, unwanted feeling it’s starting to affect your life.
Getting a little extra sleep isn’t helping you to have more energy the next day. Laying off the caffeine isn’t making you less nervous. You are having more days of feeling not right no matter what you do.
When the usual tweaks to balance you out aren’t doing the trick, something larger may be in going on. Having someone to help you sort through what’s happening can be a big help to get you feeling better.
You’ve Done Therapy Before
A few years ago, let’s say, after a bad break-up, you went to therapy. It went well and you felt better when it was over. Maybe still a little heartbroken, but you gained so much self-knowledge as a result. By all accounts it was a success. All problems solved!
But now, you are starting to feel bad again. It’s like everything you spent your time and money on in therapy a few years ago went out the window. How could this be happening?
Going to therapy is like going to the dentist. Ugg, I know, right? But hear me out. The common ground is not the drilling and needles, I promise!
Whether you follow this schedule or not, most people know what the minimum is you need to do to keep your teeth in place and gums healthy. It’s a lot of work and even if you brush, floss, mouthwash, water pic, tongue scrub, electric toothbrush, you name it, you still have to go to the dentist twice a year to get your teeth cleaned. It’s insane. And even with all this work and dedication, you can still end up with a cavity, or even a root canal. Which seems unfair, but here we are.
Therapy is the same in that it’s not a “one and done”. Even if you’ve been to therapy many times and all of them have been successful, you can still need more. Even if you are doing all the things that you’re supposed to be doing to be well, you can still need more, or something different. Life happens and things change, wether we want it to or not.
The good news about going to therapy before is that you know it can work for you, and you can have confidence that it will work again. Just making the decision to return, then, might help you to start feeling better. It’s tried and true!
You Are Ready to Make a Change
It can be such a relief to finally get to talk to someone and to finally be doing something about it, the issue that brought you to therapy. But it also means trying new things, letting go of old ways and old ideas. It can be painful, and scary. It can get hard.
For therapy to be successful, a certain level of commitment is required.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong in deciding, after starting, that actually now is not the right time for therapy. It’s also OK to try a few sessions of therapy just as a trial run to see what it’s like and stop. A few sessions, depending on the reason for starting may just be enough. Everyone’s path is their own, and I think you know what is best for yourself.
To take full advantage of what therapy has to offer, however, means that you are willing to stick through it even if it gets hard. It means that you are going into it knowing that no matter what, you plan to keep going and see where it leads.
A good therapist will challenge you, but also encourage you, every step of the way.
So, there you have it: Five signs it’s time for a therapist.
If you are ready to start therapy, congratulations on making that decision! If you are still not sure, take your time. Do your research and ask a lot of questions. You deserve the best.
My name is Bethany Brunn, am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida and would like to help you on your journey to feeling better.
My specialty area is working those in mid-life who are experiencing empty-nest, caregiving for elderly parents, work transitions, and their own changing health issues.