How Can You Tell if it's Time to See a Therapist?
Life is messy and often confusing. Sometimes you’re up, and then you’re down. You have a plan, and life throws you a curve. Life can feel like it’s just too much, and it can make you question, “Is this all there is?” No one is happy all the time. No one’s life is perfect.
So how can you decide that your particular situation is one that might be helped by psychotherapy?
You might be lucky enough to have a close friend or family member who has had a positive experience with therapy and is comfortable enough with it – and with you – to make the suggestion. Other people can often see your distress more clearly than you can yourself, so consider their recommendation seriously.
But even if no one has said anything to you here are some signs that it’s time to see a therapist: • When the same kinds of problems recur in your life. You may have conflicts at work or repeated “misunderstandings” with your friends. You may have disappointing romantic relationships or frequently feel that you don’t fit in. Or you might notice that people become annoyed with you, and you don’t really understand why. The key here is that when a problematic situation becomes familiar and you recognize that you’ve been in the same spot before, that’s when it’s time to see a therapist. • You’re having trouble sleeping. • You notice a change in your usual sleeping, eating or drinking habits. • You’re having trouble concentrating or motivating yourself to do things. • You’re irritable or anxious and searching for something to blame it on. • You feel physically unwell, but your doctor says you’re okay. • The things you used to enjoy are not much fun anymore, and nothing else positive has taken their place. • You’re trying to figure something out or to move forward with a work or family issue, and you’re stuck.
The list is by no means exhaustive; rather, it is meant to be suggestive. Besides paying attention to the way you are feeling and thinking, it is important to recognize that certain life situations, while normal and even desirable, can be so stressful that they put you at risk.
It’s easy to understand that a death in the family or the breakup of a relationship makes you emotionally vulnerable, but it is also the case that life transitions, such as leaving school and starting work or moving to a new city, are challenges that shake up your life and make new demands at the same time as they remove you from your old friends and other supports. These transitions can often be navigated more smoothly with the help of a therapist.