January 13, 2021

10 Signs You Might Need Therapy

Is it time to start therapy? I get a lot of inquiries from people who have been told they need therapy, feel like they need therapy, or are just plain curious. Before I get into the criteria for how one evaluates if it’s time to start therapy, I should share that it’s my personal belief that therapy benefits all human beings. It facilitates personal growth, self-awareness, and is akin to a workout for the psyche—an avenue to mental and emotional fitness. But how do you discern when you actually need therapy in a non-optional sort of way?

Below are 10 factors for determining whether therapy has become necessary for you.

  1. Marital or family-relationship distress. This includes abusive and problematic relational dynamics, particularly in relationships from which there is no immediate escape. During the pandemic, this factor can be greatly exacerbated. Therapy can give you the support you need to change toxic paradigms or leave them behind.
  2. Alcohol or drug abuse. A trained therapist can help with addiction issues, serving as an excellent concurrent treatment option to accompany twelve-step and other recovery programs.
  3. Loneliness. Feeling lonely and isolated can make you vulnerable to all manner of health conditions, from dementia to paranoia and beyond. Under a therapist’s guidance, you can learn to take steps to reintegrate into society, whether through remote connections (during the pandemic), getting outdoors and communing with nature, or reuniting with family and friends. Often people who have slipped into loneliness need a lot of encouragement to take these steps. A therapist is crucial in this regard.
  4. Depression. Lethargy, dampened feeling, lack of pleasure in things that once brought you joy, inexplicable and/or sustained crying or sadness—all of these can suggest you may have drifted into full-blown depression. Often treating depression involves a multi-pronged approach that can include therapy, medication, sleep hygiene, and exercise. Each of these is a necessary—but not sufficient—means of overcoming depression. Finally, a therapist can also help you determine whether medication and psychiatric treatment are also indicated.
  5. Sexual problems. Lack of desire and sexual-performance issues all respond well to therapy. In many cases, there is an underlying issue or concern that requires excavation and must be addressed before you can resume your normal course of sexual conduct. This is a particularly important area of treatment for those who are in an intimate relationship with a partner or spouse.
  6. Unexplained physical problems. The mind-body connection is powerful, and we are still at the vanguard of unraveling all the ways mental health impacts physical wellbeing. With a therapist’s help, it is possible to delve into the underpinnings of your physical ailments, many of which are rooted in past trauma.
  7. Employment difficulties. Troubles at work can be caused by troubles at home or internal emotional struggles. Moreover, once employment difficulties arise, self-esteem is often negatively impacted, creating a vicious cycle. Therapy can help you get back on track by identifying causes of and solutions to employment issues.
  8. Inability to set or attain goals. Goal-setting and achievement are crucial parts of life. Those who set goals are proven to have higher satisfaction than those who simply wing it, cruising through life on autopilot with no direction. With a therapist urging you on, goal setting can become a partnership for which you now have an accountability partner and guide. All areas of life improve through this process.
  9. Repeated problematic cycles. Have you constantly mismanaged your money, found yourself in dead-end relationships, or had trouble managing your anger? If so, therapy can lift you out of no-win paradigms and help you get to the bottom of your behavior, allowing you to break the cycle and transcend.
  10. Anxiety. The modern world, particularly in 2020 and 2021, is rife with reasons for feeling anxiety. But when anxiety becomes chronic and impedes day-to-day living, therapy is a crucial intervention. Airing your anxieties, receiving reassurance, and developing coping mechanisms goes a long way to reducing anxiety to a manageable level. A therapist can also help you determine whether medication and psychiatric treatment may also be indicated.

So, is it time to start therapy? If one or more of the above circumstances is present in your life, therapy may be the solution for you. Speaking with friends and family about the decision to seek therapy can be helpful to gain an outside perspective, and, more than anything, a session with a therapist is the ideal way to determine whether therapy is either recommended or necessary for you.