Most people understand that therapy can be helpful. They realize it when they feel better after a conversation with a friend about a difficult situation or time. But when does a person know that it will take more than a conversation with a friend to feel better and stay better?
If you ever see a doctor and they recommend medication for a mental health condition, they may also recommend that you go to therapy. The reason for this is that, while medication helps, therapy is also recommended as a part of mental health treatment.
If, however, you haven’t seen a doctor, but you’re wondering whether therapy will help, these are some signs or situations that should convince you to seek out psychotherapy:
- The pattern of your life and the things you enjoy are affected. While we all have worries from time to time, when your worries run into parts of your life that are usually happy, or if they keep you from doing things that make you happy, it is time to get some assistance to get your life back on track. While not all change is wrong or bad, if changes make you feel worse and you cannot get back to feeling normal, then it’s time to reflect on this. A good therapist can help you examine your life and figure out how you’re going to get things back to how you would like them to be.
- Family and friends begin to worry about you. If the people who love you the most and know you best are worried, it is worth consulting someone who can help you sort through what is happening and whether it is an indicator of a more serious mental health problem.
- If you are feeling as though you cannot go on with your usual situation, either at work or at home, this is a good time to seek out assistance from someone other than a friend. Many people, when work or home situations are more stressful than usual, will rush to change what is happening. It is at times like these that we make poor decisions, often with unintended consequences that we later regret. If you think you might do this, consider going for counselling or therapy first.
- When you are repeating past patterns that have caused difficulty for you, you may realize that you must stop these harmful patterns. It’s difficult to break a habit, even when it’s bad for you. Some of our habits may involve taking the same negative action each time a certain situation arises. For example, maybe stress causes you to avoid seeing friends or perhaps you always miss work the day after a disagreement with a family member. When we recognize negative patterns of behaviour, but cannot change what we are doing, this is a signal that we may need expert assistance. A therapist can help us change.
It takes a lot of courage to begin therapy. Getting help, facing our inner conflicts, holds up a mirror to a part of ourselves that can be difficult to examine.
Practice self-compassion as you begin therapy. Be compassionate when someone shares with you that they are undertaking such a difficult journey.
Change is difficult, but it will be worth it!