We are all unique with our history and personality, so there is no set rule, time or situation that should necessarily lead to therapy (also called counseling). In my experience doing psychotherapy with adults and children, these are some of the situations that lead clients to seek therapy:
1) You feel pulled into too many directions in your life and unable to find a balance. One friend described this feeling once saying that she felt like her life was like a blanket that was too short: no matter how hard she was trying to cover everything, there was always something that was left outside.
2) You feel drained and have a hard time recharging your mental energy. Maybe you have problems at work or in your personal life that are causing stress. Maybe you struggle to adapt to a new phase in your life. Whatever it is, you feel emotionally exhausted and unable to invest energy in other things that are truly important for you, such as taking care of yourself, cultivating relationships and interests.
3) Something very difficult or traumatic happened to you and you feel overwhelmed. You are having a hard time coping and you may feel you are developing unhealthy strategies (i.e. unhealthy eating, addictions, isolating yourself) to manage your pain.
4) You are unhappy with the way you relate to people close to you. This can be your partner, your children, your family or your friends. You may struggle with conflicts or you may feel lack of support and closeness with the people in your life.
5) On the surface, your life is good and you have all you wanted BUT…You feel a lack of meaning and purpose. A client once told me: “ Everything is good in my life, but I feel like I could put a robot in my place, living my life day by day and keeping up with all my responsibilities…and it would be the same”
If you are in one of these situations…What could therapy do for you?
In therapy, clients understand what their true needs are and develop a fresh look on their life. Things can be different and a therapist can help you try new strategies to create the change you need.
So, you think you need therapy…Does this mean you are crazy?
In the US society individuals seeking mental health services are still seen with stigma. Also, some people belonging to minorities may not trust (and rightfully so) mental health professionals, who have been part of the systems perpetuating oppression and racism. The situation is slowly improving, but it is understandable that for these and other reasons people may be hesitant when they consider therapy.
I often hear clients telling me that “they are not crazy”, like they need to be reassured that this in fact is not the case. In my clinical work, I learnt that seeking therapy is a sign of mental health. People who come to therapy are aware that they have areas in their lives that need growth and they are taking steps in that direction. Many times, those who are more troubled, are the ones that think that everybody around them needs to change, but they are not ready to consider any change for themselves.
Is therapy the only option?
Therapy is a very effective way to promote self-growth and improve our emotional and physical wellbeing, but it is certainly not the only way. Other activities that can be very healing include art, yoga, nurturing spiritual values, exercise, meditation, and any other endeavor where you can get in contact with your deep needs and find support.
If you have comments or questions on this topic, feel free to comment this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org