5 Signs That You're Ready for Therapy
Updated: Apr 22
Although mental health is a profoundly important aspect of well-being, it can be difficult to talk about with friends or family because of stigma or shame. Despite the silence around this issue, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are actually very common, with one in four people experiencing a mental health issue each year. Even as awareness grows around mental health, many people still hesitate to seek help for many reasons. However, therapy can be a powerful tool for improving mental health and well-being. Here are five signs that you may be ready to start therapy.
1. You’re feeling overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed can stop us from showing up as our best selves, or acting in alignment with our goals and values, leading to a sense of “stuckness” and chronic stress in our lives. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including work-related stressors, family problems, or a difficult life event such as a breakup or the loss of a loved one. During the last few years, we all experienced rapid changes to our lives related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it would be rare to find someone who didn’t feel overwhelmed as we all came to terms with uncertainty and changing circumstances. Sometimes feeling overwhelmed can lead us to coping strategies such as using substances or spending too much money, which actually end up adding more stress to our lives. If you find that stress is taking over your life, therapy can be a helpful tool for gaining control.
Therapy provides a safe, non-judgmental space where you can talk openly about your feelings. A therapist can help you develop coping strategies to manage your emotions and provide you with tools to reduce your stress levels. Additionally, therapy can help you identify unhelpful thought patterns that may be contributing to your feelings of overwhelm and help you reframe them in a more positive way. Through increased self-awareness, many people find motivation to make changes in their lives that lead to an improved sense of well-being.
Therapy can provide people with tools and techniques to cope with the challenges and stresses of daily life. This could include mindfulness practices, stress reduction techniques, or strategies for improving relationships. Sometimes it just means taking stock of where your energy is actually going and what changes you would need to feel more balanced. For people who are feeling overwhelmed, therapy can be like a “pressure release valve” that helps you get through the week.
2. You’re having difficulty in relationships
Maintaining healthy relationships can be challenging, and conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons. Communication breakdowns, trust issues, or conflicts around differences in values and priorities can all contribute to relationship problems. If you are having a really hard time in one of your relationships, or if you notice a pattern of difficulties that spans across many of your relationships, it may be time to seek out therapy.
Therapy can help you identify the root of the problem and provide you with the tools to improve your relationships. Your therapist will explore with you your beliefs and attitudes about relationships, and how you learned them in your family of origin. A therapist can help you learn how to communicate effectively, set boundaries, and manage conflict. They can also help you identify any negative behavioural patterns that may be contributing to your relationship problems and provide you with strategies to change them.
Many people seek therapy when they are struggling to cope with a breakup. The end of a relationship can be a difficult time because it touches on vulnerable experiences like abandonment or rejection, and can even threaten our self-concept and self-esteem. During or after a break-up, therapy can provide you with a safe space to process your feelings and work through the grieving process.
3. You’re living with unresolved trauma
Trauma can have a lasting impact on mental health and well-being, and it can manifest in a variety of ways. Trauma can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, war, or a serious accident. This is called acute trauma. Another form of trauma is complex trauma, which occurs when we experience chronic stress or invalidation early in our development. Complex trauma can lead to challenges with emotion regulation, relationship problems, impulsive behaviour, feelings of emptiness, and poor self-concept. If you have experienced trauma and it continues to affect you, therapy can help you process your feelings and work through the trauma.
Therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment where you can process your feelings and work through the trauma. A therapist can help you develop strategies to contain your trauma symptoms so that they are not as present as you live your life.
4. You struggle to make decisions
Decision-making can be challenging, especially when you are facing complex or difficult choices, or if you live with anxiety. However, if you find that you are frequently second-guessing yourself or avoiding making decisions altogether, therapy may be helpful.
Therapy can help you identify the underlying reasons why you may be struggling to make decisions. A therapist can help you develop tools to make decisions that are aligned with your values and goals and help you find strategies to manage anxiety that comes up when you have to make a decision. Therapy can be particularly useful when you feel like you are at a crossroads in your life, and need support with a specific big decision. One of the goals of therapy is to improve self-awareness, which often gives us a clearer picture of what we actually want and need.
5. You want to grow as a person
Many people seek therapy even if they are not struggling with the challenges mentioned earlier, but simply because they view it as preventative healthcare or because they want to grow as a person. In therapy speak, we call this “self-actualization.” Personal growth can take many forms, such as exploring one's identity, finding purpose, improving self-esteem, or developing new skills. Therapy can be a powerful tool for achieving personal growth, as it provides a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your thoughts and feelings and gain insights into your habitual patterns of behaviour.
Many people seek therapy because they feel stuck in their lives and are looking for ways to grow and change. They may feel like they are in a rut and want to explore new opportunities or take their life in a new direction. Because we specialize in LGBTQ+ issues at Stillwaters Counselling, many people use therapy as a space to come to terms with their own queerness, to explore gender identity, or to get support with coming out to friends and family.
If these reasons for seeking therapy resonate with you or feel relatable, I would love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to book a consultation in our online calendar or get in touch through email.