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How Do You Know It’s Time to See A Therapist?

There are many misconceptions about therapy, and let’s be honest — asking for help can be challenging, especially regarding your mental health. For example, maybe you have ignored certain feelings to maintain a particular image that you can handle your own problems. Or, you have believed that your problems aren’t that bad compared to the problems of others. Or you may have thought the problem might disappear if you just wait it out a little longer. These reasons could be why you have put off seeking help and why, for most, it can be hard to know when it’s time to see a therapist.

Here’s how to know when it’s time to reach out to a professional!

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does this keep happening to me?” Sometimes your best efforts to solve a problem still leave you feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied. You might feel like you have too many things to do or too many issues to deal with. Maybe your sleep becomes impacted, or it feels challenging even to take a moment to breathe. Feeling hopeless sometimes, especially after something difficult in your life, isn’t uncommon. However, it may lead to more significant mental health symptoms such as suicidal thoughts when it continues or worsens over time. If you connect to this, it could be time to consider seeing a therapist.

Has a trusted friend or family member ever encouraged or suggested you seek professional help? It’s understandable to become so lost in your own struggles that you lose track of how your mental health is impacted. However, your loved ones noticing these struggles and encouraging you to get help could also be an important indicator.

feeling good living better from therapy

You are constantly responding to situations that show up in your life (more pressure at work, rushing around to your kid’s activities, taking care of a household, or having a tense, yet necessary conversation with someone). While the stress is often uncomfortable, many times, you are probably able to handle it on your own or with the help of friends and family. But, then there is the kind of stress that seems to hit you like a ton of bricks that feels all-consuming, whether it’s relationship stress, family stress, work stress, or ‘where-is-my-life going’ stress. This type of stress can be a combination of stress from various aspects of your life, called compounded stress. Whatever the problems, when they start influencing your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and potentially disrupting relationships in your life, seeking out therapy might be an essential step to feeling more in control and empowered. 

You can also start working with a therapist for preventative matters, such as before getting married, going off to college, having a baby, or starting a new job. It’s helpful to explore different issues that are likely to arise during that upcoming transition and will allow you to feel more capable during those changes. You don’t need to wait until you’re in crisis to seek therapy!

How can therapy help?

There are so many therapeutic benefits. You can learn more about yourself with the help of a therapist. Therapists are trained to make connections with the information you share about your life. They can offer guidance and recommendations if you feel lost and unsure what to do. Therapy can empower you to take action and stand up for yourself.

Therapy can help you achieve whatever your goals might be. Even if you aren’t sure what your goals are, a therapist can help you identify them and set realistic steps to meet them. In addition, therapy is designed to help you understand why you keep feeling stuck and teach you to shift your thinking patterns to improve how you handle stressors and difficult emotions.

happy woman after therapy

Therapy can help you to have more fulfilling relationships. In addition, a therapist can assist you in addressing difficulties relating to others, such as insecurity in a relationship or difficulty trusting your partner. Therapy can also teach better communication strategies and ways of expressing emotions to important people in your life.

Whether you are overeating because you are stressed or drinking to help you unwind, unhealthy coping skills will cause new problems in your life. Unhealthy coping mechanisms invariably backfire in the long run. A therapist can help you understand your choice of coping skills and teach more productive and valuable ways of navigating distressing emotions and situations. Therapy will help you to feel stronger and more capable.

Things are hard right now. Even more challenging than the usual hard because of the state of the world. They don’t have to stay that way. You deserve to heal and live a fulfilling life. Therapy can sometimes feel hard because you’re stepping into vulnerability, but not as hard as continuing to live the way you’re feeling now. It’s never too late to take the first step in helping yourself.

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Deva Murphy MSW, LCSW

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Deva Murphy, MSW, LCSW

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