How Do You Know If You Need Therapy?
Updated: Jun 7
You may have been advised, cajoled and recommended to see a therapist but ultimately the decision has to come from you. It's great to have advice from well-meaning friends and relatives but first of all do you actually need therapy?
Here are some things to think about to help you make that decision.
1. How long have you had this issue?
If your issues have been fairly recent and you can put it down to a specific incident, like a bereavement or changes at work, you may just need some time and you will find they will resolve themselves.
However, if the issues have been long-standing, or they are a repetition of something that has occurred before and you can see a pattern, then you may need some more specific advice and help. We tend to assume that everyone is stressed, or everyone has insomnia, but you really have to get honest with yourself and try and look at it more closely.
You may have been advised, cajoled and recommended to see a therapist but ultimately the decision has to come from you. It's great to have advice from well-meaning friends and relatives but first of all, do you actually?
It's time to get into detail here and really be honest with yourself. Is your physical health affected? Does your issue impact your career? Does it affect your social life? Even if you know you have chronic anxiety or depression, you need to look at exactly where and how it manifests itself and how it is affecting all areas of your life.
2. How is this issue affecting those around you?
You might feel you're coping but get feedback from those around you. Are you more irritable or impatient? Are your family struggling to cope with your moods? Are your colleagues finding it difficult to work with you? By looking 'outside' of ourselves sometimes we can obtain a clearer perspective.
3. Why do you feel you can't do this on your own?
We have more access than ever to information around mental health. We know nutrition has a role to play. The benefits of exercise, yoga, meditation and mindfulness are well documented. If you've tried all these things, and more, and you're still experiencing mental health issues then it's time to ask for more professional help.
4. What is the ideal outcome for you?
Time to get Solution Focused with this. Let's say I had a magic wand and you did not have this issue. What would your life look like? What would you be doing? What impact will this have on you and those around you?
I ask this question often in my initial consultations and the answers are invariably very realistic. No-one really asks for 'the world'. People just want to be happier and healthier and that really is possible. If I can hear that you have a fairly good idea of where you want to be then I feel that you're ready for therapy.
5. How long are you willing to stay like this - are you ready for change?
If you have a vision of a different preferred future, and you can get into detail about what that would mean for not only you but those around you too, then you're ready to see a therapist. Or have you identified so much with your issue that it is now an intrinsic part of you? You may feel that you cannot even imagine life without anxiety or depression.
And yet there are so many people living happily and meeting life's challenges so it can't be a foregone conclusion that you HAVE TO feel this way.
If you have a vision of a different preferred future, and you can get into detail about what that would mean for not only you, but those around you too, then you're ready to see a therapist.
If you were struggling with a physical illness you would not hesitate to see your GP.
Please talk to any therapist. Before you begin any treatment we are more than happy to explain to you how we work so that you have all the information you need to make the choice that is right for you.
Gin Lalli firstname.lastname@example.org
Gin Lalli is a Solution Focused Therapist specialising in anxiety, depression, stress and sleep.