Making the decision to see a therapist is often a difficult step to take. There can be a stigma to deal with, personal indecision, and, perhaps most difficult to overcome, coming to the realisation that therapy can actually help you.
At The Summit Clinic, we see people from every walk of life imaginable. Rather than there being a particular “type” of person that therapy can be beneficial for, we’re firm believers that every single one of us can benefit from some form of therapy at one point or other in our lives. Psychotherapy in particular enables a person to do incredibly deep work on their subconscious – work that is very difficult to do without the help of a professional therapist, but that can have incredibly powerful results.
So, if therapy can help every single one of us, how do you know it’s the right time to see a therapist? Do you need therapy at this stage of your life? Ultimately, these questions are best answered by you, or through an initial discussion with a therapist. But we’ve put together some pointers that can help you to decide if now is the right time to seek help.
Signs that therapy could help you
As we’ve said, we’re firm believers that everyone can benefit from therapy. Regardless of whether your life at face-value looks “together” and on-track, there’s often underlying work that can be done to help improve your outlook, your approach to life and generally help you to take even more joy from your day-to-day life.
However, there are some clear signs that mental health problems are taking a toll on your life. Often these signs go unnoticed or, if you’ve been suffering from mental health troubles for a while, it’s easy to assume that this is just “who you are”. But if you are finding your psychological state getting in the way of your enjoyment of the day-to-day, then therapy is definitely worth exploring.
The American Psychological Association recommends considering therapy if any of the following statements are true of something in your life:
- Thinking about or coping with the issue takes up at least an hour each day
- The issue causes embarrassment or makes you want to avoid others
- The issue has caused your quality of life to decrease
- The issue has negatively affected school, work or relationships
- You’ve made changes in your life or have developed habits to cope with the issue
This list is by no means exhaustive, but is a good starting point. If something has happened in your life, whether that’s a tangible incident (perhaps a traumatic event) or just a gradual shift into a different mindset, it can have a huge impact on your ability to lead your life as you normally would – so asking yourself the questions posed by the American Psychological Association is a great way to measure how much of an impact it really is having on your life, especially when many of us wouldn’t have realised otherwise.
Outside of the American Psychological Association’s questions, there are a range of other signs that it might be time to seek professional help.
1: You’re having trouble regulating or managing your emotions
We all feel negative emotions at some point in our lives, but if you’re struggling to handle these emotions or feeling them more often than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that your brain is trying to cope with. Particularly in men, irritability or outbursts of emotion can often be written off as “masculine traits” – but if these feelings are unusual for you or are having a detrimental effect on your relationships, it could be time to seek professional help.
2: Your performance at work is suffering
It can be easy to write off declining performance as just you being bored of your job, or tired, or just temporarily unmotivated, but your performance is often inextricably linked to your mental health. If your performance is suffering because you just can’t concentrate, or you find yourself daydreaming, or you’re feeling too stressed to focus – it could be time to seek help.
3: Your sleep or eating patterns have changed
Again, another change that we could easily write off as temporary or just a part of life, but disruptions to your sleep or your appetite are often a symptom of a deeper, more complex underlying issue – and definitely something that professional therapy can help with.
4: Your relationships are suffering
Changes in the state of your relationship are often one of the first signs of an underlying issue rearing its head. Your friends, family and loved ones may be the first to realise something has changed, perhaps even before you do – and those relationships will often be the first things to start suffering. Changes in mood, sleep patterns or day-to-day performance take their toll on relationships and our loved ones will notice.
5: You’re no longer enjoying the things you used to
We all go through phases when it comes to things we enjoy doing, but if you’re finding that none of the hobbies or activities you used to enjoy are bringing you the same joy, that could be a sign of mental imbalance. Identifying these changes suggest it could be time to seek professional help to reveal and deal with the underlying causes of your disinterest.
6: Your physical health is suffering
We often overlook the deep connection between mental and physical health, but it’s hugely important. It’s often easier to identify changes in physical health early on, before you even consider changes in your mental health, but these physical changes can be a symptom of your body trying to cope with mental challenges. If your weight is fluctuating or your skin is irritated, these symptoms can be physical manifestations of your brain dealing with unusual stress – whether that’s from psychological trauma or a more gradual decline in your mental wellbeing.
What if there hasn’t been a trigger – can therapy still help if I’m just generally feeling “off” from my usual self?
In short, of course. While we can sometimes point to tangible events or shifts in our lives that have sparked a period of our mental health suffering, often it’s impossible to identify a particular moment. And that’s where the deep subconscious work of psychotherapy can really help.
The goal of psychotherapy is to realign your conscious and subconscious, often uncovering subconscious triggers that we weren’t aware of. If you’re experiencing changes in your mental health or your attitudes towards things (for example, not enjoying things you previously enjoyed doing), then psychotherapy can be incredibly helpful in identifying why that’s the case and helping you to determine how you can overcome those issues.
How do I find the right therapist to help me?
Recognising that therapy could help you is a great first step – but the next step, actually finding the help you need, can be challenging.
Most importantly, you need to find a therapist who understands your specific issues and can really help you to dive deep into the underlying causes. There’s a lot riding on your personal interactions with a therapist, so it’s important to find someone who fits well with you. In a nutshell, feeling comfortable with your therapist and feeling that they understand you and believe in you, is half the job done. It is that important.
At The Summit Clinic, we’ll always be honest about whether we’re a good fit for you. During an initial conversation about the issues you’re hoping to overcome, we’ll get a good sense as towhether we can really help you – and if we can’t, we’ll point you in the direction of someone who can.
Finding the right therapist is incredibly personal to you, so there’s no “how to” for getting it right – but, once you do find the right therapist, you’ll wonder why you waited so long!
If you’re ready to try therapy, get in touch with us to see if we can help.