We all have good days and bad ones. For some of us, though, we seem to feel things even more acutely. We may need more than just the words of friends or family to help us live brighter, more fulfilling lives. But how do we know what that point is?
In the past, we might have thought of therapy as something only for the seriously depressed, but we now know that it can help with many things, from conflict within marriage to even just general feelings of “not quite good enough”, whether that be in our careers, at home, or in social situations.
If how you feel is often out of proportion with what is happening in the moment, therapy may be helpful to understand and work through some issues. For instance, if you are experiencing anger or sadness that seems to be more intense than what the situation demands, then therapy can be of benefit.
So How Can We Tell When It's Time To Seek Out The Professional Help Of A Psychotherapist?
Some general ideas:
- If speaking with friends and loved ones does not seem to give ongoing relief.
- Body image issues, including anorexia or bulimia.
- Bored or unmotivated a good deal of the time.
- Experiencing intrusive, obsessive, or negative thoughts.
- Feeling anxious more often than not, even if it’s low-grade.
- An inability to identify your own needs.
- If you have difficulty standing up for yourself and allow others to overshadow you.
- Unresolved, habitual patterns in your relationship with your partner.
- Difficulty seeing your own worth.
- Addictive behavior towards alcohol, drugs, sex, spending, or gambling.
- Feeling angry, resentful, or sad a great deal of the time.
- If you are starting to wonder if you have more than just clutter and it is now potentially hoarding.
- Experiencing depression or depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks.
- Continually on edge, angry more than you would like at your children, partner, or others. Finding that you are yelling at your loved ones more than embracing them.
- Grief. Does unaddressed, untreated grief feel like a lead weight is constantly sitting on your chest?
- Feeling as if you just can’t get ahead, no matter how hard you try.
- Panic attacks.
- Any type of anxiety that causes you to avoid new places, people, or situations.
- ADD or ADHD (for yourself or a child).
- Parenting a child with a mental, emotional, or physical challenge.
- General feelings of malaise or something is “just not quite right”.
- Wondering if you are living your fullest life possible.
- Parenting issues that refuse to go away.
- Unresolved conflicts with partners, in-laws, or other family, especially if long-term.
Of course, all of us experience many of these at certain times of life, and some may be more dramatic than others.
Two important things to note here are duration and severity.
One day in which you notice any of these patterns or issues (or even five) does not necessarily mean you need to see a psychotherapist, however if you have noticed that the issue doesn’t seem to be getting better, or has worsened recently, then it may be time to reach out for help.
Like anything, knowing when to see someone is purely subjective. Only you can know whether you need to seek out additional help, however many people with even mild concerns find it beneficial to speak to someone who can be empathetic, positive, and concerned for your well-being.
Benefits Of Psychotherapy Are Clear
Depending on the person and what he or she brings to the therapy table, a variety of therapeutic approaches may be utilized.
- One person might benefit from Gestalt Therapy.
- Someone else might benefit more from Inner Child Work or Family Systems approaches.
- Others may thrive with the help of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
What we do know for sure is that the research shows that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps people learn to think differently about their concerns, does have true benefits.
Studies have shown that cognitive therapy works at least as well as antidepressants in helping people with mild to moderate depression.
Indeed, studies have even shown that CBT can even reduce pain and increase well-being that CBT can even reduce pain and increase well-being. The conclusion of one such study says that a depression-focused CBT intervention yields benefits in other common postoperative problems.
A Therapist Is Not Your Best Friend
And that’s a good thing.
While most people believe they can get many of the same benefits form talking to a friend, the way that we carry on a conversation with a friend is generally very different than a good therapy session.
When we speak with friends, some may respond with an anecdote from their own life as part of the conversation. We don’t usually want to “rock the boat” with our friends, and we try to steer clear of uncomfortable topics in the name of friendship.
It is also not possible for a friend to be objective and they don’t have the skills to process problems that a trained psychologist or clinical social worker has.
A therapist, however, is:
- Solely, completely, and utterly focused on you and your concerns, and can help you to think and respond differently (instead of perhaps allowing you to fall into your same thought and behavioral patterns, as many of us tend to with our friends.)
- Also entirely understanding and is trained to respond with empathy and compassion, with no agenda other than to help you to heal.
- Completely confidential. You can be assured that whatever you say to them will not be revealed to anyone, allowing you to be open to sharing more than you possibly would with others.
At Nassau Guidance & Counseling, we work with clients who have experienced all types of concerns. We welcome you to come in and heal.