How do you know when to go to therapy? How do you know that therapy will help you?
Starting therapy or counselling can be daunting, however looking after your mind and your mental wellbeing is just as important as caring for your physical health. You don’t need a big reason to seek help, but rather therapy is a way of checking in on yourself.
How to know when you need help
When considering therapy, many put themselves off talking to someone as they downplay their symptoms and struggles.
The American Psychological Association has created a list that can be used to gauge the seriousness of your struggles:
- Thinking or coping with the issue takes more than an hour every day
- The issue makes you feel embarrassed and you feel the need to avoid others
- The issue has caused your quality of life to decrease
- The issue negatively effects school, work, or relationships
- You have made changes in your life or developed (often harmful) habits to cope with the issue
If you can relate to any of these statements, you should consider talking to a professional about your mental wellbeing. But, again, you don’t need a big reason to speak to someone about your mental wellbeing – if you feel that therapy or counselling will help you then that is all that matters.
Reasons to go to therapy
Everyone’s reason for talking to a therapist is different, but some of the most common reasons people seek help include:
You need help with a specific mental health issue: You may be struggling with a specific issue (i.e. depression, anxiety, addiction etc) and will seek help from a professional specialising in treatment for that issue.
You could use an unbiased, confidential person to talk to: Therapists and counsellors provide an objective ear to listen to your problems and can offer support for issues that you don’t feel comfortable discussing with friends or family.
You feel like you aren’t functioning at 100%: Decreased productivity, procrastination, and the feeling that you can never catch up can have a large impact on your mental wellbeing. Speaking to a professional can help you revaluate your workload and expectations of yourself.
You’re struggling with expectations: You feel the pressure to be constantly productive or juggle everything and be there for everyone. Therapy can help you prioritise your commitments and place your mental wellbeing as a priority.
You feel empty and disconnected: Feelings of numbness and isolation can be symptoms of depression.
You feel stuck: You feel that you are stuck repeating the same patterns and harmful behaviours in your life. Therapy can keep you accountable for implementing change.
You are going through a major life event: When you are going through periods of change, the support that therapy offers makes you feel less isolated and anxious.
Relationship difficulties: You would like help working through difficult relationship dynamics with friends, families, or loved ones.
You are more irritable than usual: You have a shorter fuse than usual and snap at those trying to help. Therapists are professionals that can help you through anger issues with impartial and objective advice.
You feel overwhelmed: You may be juggling too many commitments or simply little tasks like leaving bed in the morning seem impossible.
Difficulty sleeping and feeling overtired: Sleep dramatically impacts our mental wellbeing, and in turn poor mental health damages our sleep. For more information on sleep and mental health, check out our article on the importance of sleep.
You experienced trauma: Addressing trauma requires support in a caring and safe professional environment.
Grief: Grief effects everyone in different ways. Talking to a therapist about your thoughts and emotions can help you get through these difficult times.
You need help dealing with repressed emotions: If emotions aren’t addressed they don’t go away, they come back to haunt you. Therapy can help you pick apart old, lingering emotions so you can relieve any hidden stressors.
You have a physical health problem: Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. When our physical health is poor it impacts our mental health and vice versa. Those suffering with long-term illnesses will benefit from speaking to a professional about their mental health to ensure that their wellbeing doesn’t deteriorate.
You are living in a pandemic: The Covid pandemic has effected everyone in different ways and many are living with loss, grief, anxiety, and agoraphobia.
You want to feel more confident: Therapy can help you see your strengths and support you as you work towards your goals.
You want to become the best version of yourself: Learning more about yourself and your mental health helps you address your values and gives you vital tools for dealing with the future.
What are the outcomes of going to therapy?
As you can see above, therapy can impact every part of your life to ensure that your mental wellbeing heals and remains healthy. Some of the positives for seeking help include:
Support: Therapy provides vital support through any and all issues you may be dealing with. This support is different from that from friends and family as therapists can provide professional and specialised care.
Confidence: From the support offered by therapy, you gain confidence when tackling your issues and daily life.
Coping mechanisms: You learn various coping mechanisms so that you can face future issues and situations with confidence.
You learn more about yourself: You can learn about certain triggers that may be causing issues and what motivates your subconscious.
You learn about others: Therapy not only teaches you about why you react to certain situations, but can also help you understand why others behave in certain ways. You can gain compassion and sympathy with others.
Therapy rewires your brain: Psychologists have found that therapy has an important impact on our brain activity, especially the improvement of processing emotions. Check out Dr Beauregard’s article and Dr Quidé et.al’s article for more information.
Therapy helps the next generation: By learning about various behaviours and triggers, you can support the next generation and teach them about the importance of mental wellbeing.
Therapy is not a quick fix and it can take a while to see improvement in your mental wellbeing. It can also take time to find the right therapist – you need to find someone who you connect with and that you feel safe with. It is important to listen to how you feel in therapy; it’s an emotional experience and your comfort and safety is a priority.
At Mind Space we have trusted and highly skilled licensed therapists available 24 hours a day. We can help you take the steps to improve your life, no matter what challenges you are facing in complete confidence. Get some Mind Space, call us on 0207 553 5010.
Mental health apps: There are many free and subscription based apps like Calm, Moodkit, iBreathe, Mindshift CBT, and Quit That!.
Community resources: Check out your local church, doctors practice, supermarket, and university or college for advertisements for mental health support.
Support groups: Research local or online support groups for specific issues.
Organizations, websites, and hotlines: There are many organisations online that specialise in tackling specific mental health issues and mental wellbeing more generally.
NHS Better Health: support groups, articles, self-help information.
National Centre for Eating Disorders: 0845 838 2040
Family Lives has a useful page of links for domestic issues.
Sane hotline: 0300 304 7000.