10 signs you should see a therapist
A common question I am often asked during client intake is, how do you know it’s the right time to see a therapist.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about therapy for a while.
Or perhaps your anxiety has reached a peak level. You can’t control how often you are crying, your relationship has come to an abrupt end, or you’ve lost an important job.
There is usually a catalyst which might influence why you are seeking help at this particular time.
Therapy is usually a well thought out decision, or an idea that you have been considering for some time as there are a number of things to consider.
You may have thought of this idea yourself, recognising the need to have a space to speak in a non-judgemental environment with an impartial ear.
Therapy may have come recommended to you by a concerned family member or friend, but for some reason there has been some hesitation on your part to reach out or get started.
Sometimes there is the threat of ‘you need therapy’ as though there is something fundamentally wrong with you that needs to be fixed.
Therapy can be perceived as some form of punishment, but it can actually be the start of change that you’ve been thinking about.
Instead of thinking of therapy as punishment, I consider therapy as a healthy part of self care.
Having some time that is solely dedicated to you and your wellbeing. A welcomed space to hear your own thoughts, gain perspective and clarity.
Yes, as a psychotherapist I may be a little biased (okay, a lot biased), but I’ve seen the benefits from both sides of the couch and truly believe in the process of therapy.
When it comes to seeing a therapist, there is a time commitment, finances to consider and the timing is important, as you need to feel emotionally ready to begin the process of self discovery.
Therapy is a commitment, but it is also an investment in you, your mental health, emotional wellbeing and personal development.
There are a lot of counsellors out there who work in different ways and it can be overwhelming trying to find the right therapist for you if you are unsure where to look or where to start.
What I have found is that the thought of starting therapy is often more worrisome than actually starting.
After the first session, clients at often relieved that it isn’t as difficult or uncomfortable as they thought it would be.
There are many myths about what counselling actually is, so it can be helpful to get a realistic expectation of what counselling is really like before you decide to get started.
Seeing a therapist is a big step, it can initially feel daunting to think that you will have a space to potentially divulge to a stranger some of your problems that so far you haven’t felt able to talk to family and friends in any great detail.
This might feel like pressure, particularly if you are not used to talking in length about yourself, but you’d be amazed at how quickly you can adapt to the process of therapy.
Starting the process of counselling often comes with some self doubt, there are regularly questions around whether or not a person feels bad enough to need counselling.
This sense can come from not wanting to feel like a burden or admit that there something is wrong.
For some, it can feel like a very vulnerable position to ask for help.
What I would say, is if you feel like you are would benefit from talking things through with somebody, and you don t have this opportunity to do so in your everyday life, then counselling could be the right choice for you.
Here are some common difficulties that clients express and have found counselling to be a good choice for them.
This list is not exhaustive, but offers some areas that might get you thinking about where you are right now.
1. Increase in anxiety or stress levels, a marked change in appetite and sleeping patterns. Broken sleep with anxious thoughts, long periods of insomnia and restlessness.
2. Feelings of loneliness and isolation, becoming more withdrawn and avoiding social interaction.
3. Maladaptive coping strategies to deal with difficult feelings. Controlled eating, binge drinking, recreational drugs to aid coping with difficulty, self-harm during heightened feelings of stress.
4. Low confidence and self esteem – feeling like you are not good enough or incapable of getting things right.
5. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with life and it’s many difficulties. You want things to change, but you don’t know what to do or where to start.
6. A lack of close or meaningful relationships.
7. Unresolved trauma in childhood, such a family bereavement, parental divorce, or toxic family systems. Unhealthy relationship with parents, or previous relationship, which continues to impact your relationships in the present. A lack of trust in others, or unable to sustain long term relationships.
8. Feeling angry all or most of the time, snapping and being short with others, sometimes without a known reason or cause.
9. Suicidal thoughts or intrusive thoughts.
10. Difficulty in managing emotions, feeling overwhelmed with feelings.
There doesn’t have to be anything fundamentally wrong for you to seek therapy, it can be a rewarding experience to develop your self awareness and self development.
It does need to be a personal choice and the decision should ultimately be yours.
You shouldn’t feel coerced or forced into therapy as you might find the process counterproductive if you don’t feel quite ready.
However, I always welcome a little scepticism and an open mind to explore how therapy can really help you.
I’m Lizandra Leigertwood, an online psychotherapist and coach helping big hearted souls to stop the people pleasing, find healthy boundaries and to become empowered to have healthy relationships. Sign up to the mailing list to get helpful relationship and emotional wellbeing tips straight to your inbox.