When is it time to consider psychotherapy? is a great article written by Karen Rogers, MFCC. Sometimes people don’t seek professional help because of stigma and stereotypes, like that a belief it’s only for seriously ill people. Rogers explains what psychotherapy is (for example, that it doesn’t provide answers but helps you reach your own) and suggests nine reasons to consider it.
A major life event like a breakup, death, financial crisis or an accident will cause distress – which is totally normal – but if the distress doesn’t improve over time therapy can help resolve it. Other reasons include “when you notice yourself repeating negative patterns with work, family, friends or personal pursuits,” “when your work and/or personal life is negatively impacted by your moods or feeling states,” chronically low self-esteem, and disruptive habits like substance misuse or overspending. Rogers expands on these, and more:
7. When life has ceased feeling meaningful, joyous or purposeful. Does your life feel dry, flat or routine? Do you find more often than not that you’re simply going through the motions, doing the daily tasks that must be done with little pleasure, satisfaction or delight? Have you lost touch with the hopes and dreams that used to motivate and inspire you? These states of spiritual and psychological aridity can signal the need to take a deeper look at ourselves and reevaluate our commitments and priorities. The responsiveness of a therapist can help us acknowledge the deep urgings and longings of our truer selves. Therapy can be a place where we chart a new course for our lives.
8. When an important relationship is in trouble. Close, intimate relationships are the places where we learn the most about ourselves. They have the ability to bring out the very best and worst in us and our partners. If your relationship with your spouse, partner, child or family is a repeated source of pain, consider consulting a therapist. Often an objective third party trained in relationship dynamics can point out problematic patterns in communication, habits of criticism, attack, defensiveness or withdrawal and help a couple reconnect with what they value in each other.
9. When others express concern for you. Have family, friends or co-workers mentioned that they’re worried or concerned about you? Have you received feedback that you don’t seem yourself lately or that your behavior is alarming to those who care about you? It sometimes takes great courage for the people who love us to let us know that something seems wrong. This can serve as a wake-up call.
If you’re wondering if therapy or counseling is appropriate at this point in your life, read the full article and/or contact someone to discuss it. (PsychCentral has a directory for people in North America). Sometimes it only takes a brief series of solution-focussed counselling, and nobody is “crazy” to seek help with a problem. It might be crazier not to.