If you notice your mental health affects your daily life or you’d like support on your journey, speaking with a therapist may benefit you.
Talk therapy is often the first step in treating mental health conditions. Still, talk therapy not only helps people with mental illnesses — nearly everyone can benefit from therapy. It can be a useful tool for working on many aspects of your life.
Many people worry that their mental health isn’t “bad enough” to justify seeing a therapist. In truth, you don’t need to have a mental health condition to see a therapist, nor do you have to be in crisis.
It might be helpful to think of therapy like a dental appointment. Although it’s good to go to the dentist when emergencies arise, it can also be beneficial to see a dentist for a routine checkup to identify and treat problems before they become crises.
In the same way, you don’t need to be in crisis to benefit from therapy. If you’d like to go, and if you can go, it might benefit you.
Anybody can benefit from talk therapy if they feel comfortable with a therapist and are willing to engage during their sessions.
People often see a therapist when they:
- are coping with the loss of a loved one
- have (or think they have) a mental illness
- have experienced a traumatic event
- are going through a major change
- experiencing a lot of stress
- have symptoms of mental illnesses
Still, you don’t need to be dealing with something major to go to therapy. We’re all works in progress. Nobody is perfect, and most of us have baggage and unhealthy patterns. Therapy can help with that.
For example, therapy can help you:
- improve your resilience to stress
- unpack past traumas
- work on your relationships
- improve your communication skills
- make thoughtful, healthy decisions
- develop healthy coping mechanisms
- work on unhealthy habits or patterns
If you have a specific goal for therapy, it’s essential to discuss this with your therapist upfront. Although these goals can change over time, it’s a good idea to keep them in mind.
As mentioned, anyone can benefit from therapy. Wanting to go to therapy is more than enough reason to give it a go.
There are a few significant experiences in which a therapist could help. If you notice any of the following signs you may consider therapy for additional support.
If you feel that you’re in emotional distress, therapy could be beneficial.
Emotional distress can include feelings of hopelessness and numbness. It could also look like overwhelming sadness, anger, or frustration.
If you’d characterize your emotional state as “in distress,” consider reaching out for help.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, therapy will probably benefit you. But therapy can benefit people who haven’t been diagnosed, too. If you think you might have a mental illness, consider speaking with a therapist.
You don’t have to know what that mental health condition might be to see a therapist. It’s not necessary to self-diagnose beforehand.
But experiencing symptoms of mental illness, and suspecting that you have a mental health condition, could be a sign it’s time to see a therapist.
Traumatic events, whether recent or in the distant past, can have a profound impact. Therapy can help you process these events, recognize how they affected you, and cope in the aftermath.
Even if you’re coping well after the event, talking with a professional can be helpful.
Some people smoke cigarettes, drink a glass of wine, or use mind-altering substances to relieve tension and improve their mood.
While this isn’t necessarily a sign of a crisis, it’s worth reassessing your situation if you find that substances are the only way you can cope.
If you’re overusing substances to cope, or if you don’t feel like you can cope without them, consider seeking help.
This applies to cigarettes, too. While they might not be intoxicating, an increase in the number of cigarettes can indicate that your stress levels have increased.
It’s not only substances you need to track. Some of us use (or overuse) other things to cope — gambling, social media, and pornography.
You don’t have to fit the criteria for a substance use disorder or addiction to benefit from therapy. Excess use may be a sign that you need help.
It’s common and healthy to feel negative emotions from time to time. Anxiety, sadness, and anger aren’t necessarily signs you’re in crisis. Learning to cope with those emotions healthily is good.
But what happens when those healthy coping methods aren’t working?
For example, if going for a run doesn’t soothe your anxiety like it usually does, or if venting to your friends doesn’t make you feel any less angry, it could signify it’s time for therapy.
If you find it difficult to manage your day-to-day life, therapy may help you.
Finding it hard to function could include:
- being overwhelmed by your emotions
- feeling like you can’t cope
- having difficulty managing daily tasks like cleaning or running errands
- difficulty keeping up at work or school
- finding it difficult to maintain relationships with loved ones
- experiencing difficulty maintaining basic hygiene or eating regularly
If you’re finding it tough to execute daily tasks, adding therapy to the to-do list might increase your feelings of overwhelm.
But prioritizing your mental health can be necessary and may help you identify how to balance various areas of your daily life.
Sometimes, our family and friends realize that we’re in crisis before we do. When loved ones express concern about your mental health, it’s worth paying attention.
If your partner has suggested that you speak with a professional, or if a friend tells you that they think you need help, it could be a sure sign that you need therapy.
Once you’ve decided to go to therapy, the next question is how to find a therapist.
There are many ways to find a therapist that suits your needs (and your budget). This can include:
- using online directories
- using an online therapy service
- asking your general practitioner for a referral
- speaking with a social worker
- asking friends for recommendations
Not every therapist will be a good fit for you. While some people click with the first therapist they meet, others need to shop around before finding a therapist who works for them. You can look at our guide on how to choose a therapist for some pointers.
While nearly anyone can benefit from therapy, the signs mentioned earlier may help you determine whether you need to see a therapist.
If you’re experiencing emotional distress, looking for a therapist might seem overwhelming. But it can pay off significantly in the long run.