A lot of us feel our day-to-day lives are loaded with challenges. Pressures at school and work, family issues, and financial struggles can challenge our mental resilience almost every day. In general, we are equipped with coping mechanisms that might work fine, most of the time, by helping us manage everyday pressures.
Sometimes, however, these mechanisms are not relevant or strong enough. Some of life’s challenges are too upsetting to be handled without help. Yet, different studies show that people – and particularly men – often bottle up their emotional struggles, and avoid seeking professional help. At the same time, they [men] are more likely than women to feel frustrated about life’s challenges, such as losing a job or having financial troubles. Also, men are more likely to engage in substance abuse or violence more often, believing that they need to “man up” and deal with their emotional and mental health problems on their own.
Are you thinking about therapy? How do you know when it’s time to see a therapist? Here are 4 questions that will help you decide.
1. Why Do People Go to Therapy?
We all have people and situations in life that challenge us. People usually reach out for counseling when their emotional or mental health concerns affect their daily life. For instance, people come to therapy when they feel distant from their partner, and/or are unable to adjust to a new living environment. Therapy can help you understand your feelings, learn effective coping strategies, and change behavior patterns that may cause your symptoms.
Anxiety and Depression
Many people seek therapy when their irrational fears, negative self-talk, and false beliefs affect their day-to-day life and function. Therapy can help you recognize dysfunctional cognitive patterns that generate a great amount of discomfort. It can also encourage you to set the boundaries and make realistic plans for change.
Also, the ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt may be signs of depression – a condition one ideally would never deal with alone. Therapy can help you recognize your depression symptoms and what may be causing them. Also, a therapist may help you build mechanisms for handling your symptoms more successfully.
Low self-esteem can lead to anxiety and depression and prevent you from seizing opportunities in life. So, therapy can help you build self-esteem over time.
If you went through a stressful life event, therapy may help you bounce back and maintain your well-being. When coping skills are overwhelmed by the intensity of a stressful event, you may feel tense and defeated a lot of the time. Accumulated stress sometimes leads to mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. A therapist can help you recognize the main stress triggers in your life and find constructive ways to manage them.
Therapy can almost always help someone process trauma. Trauma-focused therapy may prevent post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health complications.
Whether it’s poor communication, intimacy on finding constructive ways to cope with the situation and/or issues.
There is nothing wrong with spending some time alone or with being an “introvert”. However, if you feel uncomfortable and distressed around other people or you dread social interactions, therapy can help you understand and manage these feelings.
2. Isn’t Asking for Help Considered a Sign of Weakness?
So many people consider asking for help a sign of insecurity and weakness. Fear of revealing our struggles, along with centuries of mental health stigma prevent people from seeking much-needed support. They often pursue relief by self-medicating in some ways, such as by using or abusing alcohol and drugs.
Going to therapy is the equivalent of you finding a treatment for your mind and emotions the same way you would go to a doctor when you feel physically sick. Also, therapy is not exclusively for people who struggle with mental illness. You can seek therapy when you need someone to listen to you without judgment, to teach you how to solve problems positively, and to help you improve your life.
Therapy can also encourage you to improve your self-esteem, process grief and loss, adjust to significant life changes, work on feelings such as anger or sadness, and improve relationships.
Going to therapy doesn’t mean that you are broken, weak to handle things on your own, or “crazy”. Therapy is a means to help you understand your emotions and cope with life changes, relationships, and stress. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. The truth is that the majority of people who ask for a therapist’s help are ordinary people dealing with everyday challenges.
3. Why Do I Need a Therapist if I can talk to Family Members or Friends?
While support from family and friends is invaluable, sometimes it is much easier to talk to a stranger about certain personal problems. What you share with a therapist is private and confidential and therefore may encourage you to work on topics that you find too embarrassing or hard to share with friends and family.
Although family members and friends may provide empathy and be a great support, trained and licensed therapists are more objective, and are better equipped to help you with certain issues such as processing trauma, abuse, or other difficult emotional issues, or with identifying and replacing dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors.
4. What is the Therapist’s Role?
An important part of the therapist’s professional role is to help the client develop and grow. The therapist is responsible for creating a safe environment and establishing the boundaries and structure in the therapist-patient relationship. The therapist is accountable for establishing rapport with the client and building trust in a supportive and warm environment.
Moreover, the therapist will help you deal with difficult emotions and daily life problems. Additionally, they will provide crisis treatment, help you manage stress, work on your feelings, modify behaviors, and set clear goals.
The psychotherapist is an important part of the client’s therapeutic change. At times, the therapist’s role can look similar to the roles of our parents, personal trainers, teachers, or best friends. However, like every other relationship, each therapist-patient relationship is unique. It is up to you and your therapist to discuss and decide what kind of relationship is the best fit for your needs to help you achieve your personal goals.