When Should I Go To Therapy?
Updated: Apr 16
If you are unsure whether therapy or counseling is indicated for you, this article details several signs to help you identify when therapy may be indicated.
You feel as though you have tried everything to feel better, but nothing is changing. In fact, you may even be feeling worse. Whether it’s feeling down and low, keyed up and frantic, stressed out, or just lost, you are just not feeling like yourself anymore. You’re not sure when you lost yourself but it definitely was a while ago. Even your friends, family, or coworkers are noticing that something is “off” about you. You may have tried self-help books, or talking to people, or just trying to deal with it all on your own. Now, even your family, friends, or work are being affected by how you feel. You just don’t know what to do or who to turn to. If you are experiencing any of this, it may be time to consider turning to a professional that can help you. In other words, A THERAPIST.
What does therapy do?
Therapy works. Therapy helps. Therapy, or counseling, can help you cope with feelings, problem solve, and change behavior patterns. Research shows that therapy is an effective treatment for a variety of symptoms, issues and diagnoses. There are many different types of therapy that are considered effective, and even evidence-based, for various issues, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization and Reprocessing), and person-centered approaches. Therapy can also help you learn more self-awareness, uncover hidden strengths, and learn new skills that you need to not only survive but to succeed in the world.
Why do I love counseling?
I am passionate about therapy. Why? Because I believe that everyone should have the right to quality emotional support from an unbiased perspective. Because I know firsthand that therapy is effective, since it has been for me at different times in my life. Because I have testimonials from my clients that say it works and how much better they feel and are as a person. And finally, because the personal growth that I’ve seen so many clients and friends achieve through therapy is eye-opening. A good therapist or counselor can help you reach your professional and personal goals for your life.
Here are several signs that may help you determine when therapy is right for you:
1) Troubling Symptoms
You have some signs or symptoms that are making it difficult for you to continue managing your life. For example, you may be experiencing a change in your sleep patterns which can be a sign of many different mental health issues including depression or anxiety, or having trouble focusing or concentrating at work or on long tasks. Or perhaps you are having panic attacks that are so intense you feel like you’re having a heart attack. You may have changes in your mood such as being very sad or depressed when normally you are a happy person. If you are having really troubling symptoms, such as thoughts or plans of suicide, seeing or hearing things that others don’t see or hear (hallucinations), or highly impulsive behavior that isn’t like you, this is when you should absolutely be assessed further by a mental health professional or doctor.
Many of these above symptoms can also be associated with medical issues, so be sure to rule out any medical things going on with your primary care physician first. If you’re not sure what you’re experiencing and whether you are having signs or symptoms of anxiety or depression, or something else, you may want to consult with a therapist as a next step.
2) Traumatic event
Have you experienced, witnessed, or been exposed to, a traumatic event? The event can be a one-time event, such as witnessing a significant natural disaster, or chronic trauma such as abuse or neglect in your past. And just even witnessing a traumatic event can trigger reactions just as strong as actually experiencing a trauma. Regardless of the duration or severity of the trauma, if you are having symptoms such as recurring nightmares of the event, intrusive memories, loss of interest in activities, irritable mood, hyper-vigilant about your surroundings, or difficulty experiencing happy emotions, you are likely having a trauma response that could even be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An experienced trauma therapist can help you determine if you have a diagnosis and how to treat it so that you can move beyond the traumatic event.
Loss of a loved one is one of the most significant losses we experience in our lives. Other losses, while perhaps less impactful, may still affect us in many ways. Loss of a relationship or divorce, loss of a pet, and even loss of one’s health or lifestyle can move us into the grief process. Everyone grieves loss differently and individually. Depending on the severity and complexity of the loss, your grief may be more intense and longer, or you may be able to get through it on your own. The only thing you cannot do is skip the grieving process. If having the strong emotions associated with grieving are difficult for you to handle, consider seeing a trained grief counselor or therapist who can help you through the process.
4) Overwhelming stress
You may be experiencing stress from many different areas in your life: school, work, family, relationships, living situation, financial issues, and the list goes on. Oftentimes we can handle stress from one area, but when it starts piling up and it begins to affect our lives, this is when you should consider seeing a therapist for stress management counseling. If your sleeping or eating habits have changes and you’re having difficult doing either of those things, or if your stress is causing you problems at work, in your relationships, or at home and you’re feeling like you’re drowning in your stress, it is likely that talking to a trained professional will help you make sense of what you are feeling and how to cope with everything better.
5) Relationship problems
Relationship problems are perhaps the top reason why people seek therapy. Relationships are such important parts of our lives and we put so much energy and effort into them. A marriage or couples therapist can help partners work through relationship distress, address infidelity, and perhaps even just give the relationship tune-up. In addition, individual therapists or counselors can help each individual in the relationship process relationship losses, identify themes in their lives that lead to relationship issues, and develop a plan for future relationships.
6) Personal growth
Therapy and counseling are safe, supportive, and unbiased places to work towards personal growth for you. Having someone listen to your thoughts, feelings, and goals and help you try to figure out what you want from your life, career, or yourself can be invaluable. You may be feeling stuck or limited in how you are responding to life stressors but yet you don’t feel like it’s a mental health issue; in this case therapy can still benefit you. You can work to identify goals for your life, identify the person you’ve always wanted to be, and work towards those goals with a therapist helping to provide insight into any barriers or blocks you may encounter along the way.
Counseling is effective for many symptoms
There are many signs or symptoms to be aware of that may indicate that therapy is right for you. Therapy and counseling are effective treatments for a variety of symptoms, issues, and diagnoses, and can also help if you are just looking for personal growth. For most of us at any one point in our lives, therapy may be indicated based on the above criteria. While I personally believe that therapy can be not only effective but also life-changing, therapy still may not be for everyone.
How We Can Help
If you are interested in how therapy can help you or support you in reaching your goals, contact us at Catalyss Counseling for a free 20-minute phone consultation or schedule an appointment online with one of our experienced therapists to start your journey towards a more balanced life, better self-care, and personal growth.
Shannon Heers is a licensed professional counselor, clinical supervisor, guest blogger and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, grief and loss, and addictions, to live a more balanced life. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn or Facebook.