How do You Know if You Would Benefit from Therapy?

Man talking and waving hands in therapy session with psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, therapist or life coach. Meeting with professional specialist with a notepad. Male patient sitting on couch.

Some of you reading this blog have already experienced therapy in one form or another. Others of you may have wondered if it is something you should consider. I thought it might be helpful to provide you with some information and possible insights about therapy in this and in the next few blogs I write. I also encourage you to do your own research – there’s a lot out there if you do a little Googling!

The idea of people entering into therapeutic relationships has been a part of our human history since the beginning of time. According to the website TalkSpace in an article written by Jessica Weinberger: “Even before the written language, people told stories and parables. It’s an ancient tradition that often served as a kind of therapy, helping others heal while passing on indelible wisdom to support others. More than 3,500 years ago, references to ‘healing through words’ appeared in ancient Egyptian and Greek writings. The word ‘counseling’ found its way into Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale in 1386.”

And she adds, “The more formal term ‘psychotherapy’ was coined in the late 1800s, which the Mayo Clinic defines as a ‘general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health provider.”  

Beautiful young woman discussing her problems with female psychologist

This pandemic has created incredible amounts of stress and anxiety for individuals, families, communities and our entire nation. This contributed to even more people needing therapy to help them cope with the impact of the pandemic, especially if they have unresolved significant trauma or other emotional wounds that have now been exacerbated by all we have experienced.

What are some symptoms a person experiences that are indicators that therapy might be useful?  The American Psychological Association states that a person would benefit from seeing a therapist “when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life, particularly when 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, it has caused your quality of life to decrease, has negatively affected school, work, or relationships and/or you’ve made changes in your life or developed habits to cope with the issue.”

The site Good Therapy provides more specific information regarding possible signs that you might be in need of a therapist:

  1. You feel overwhelmed
  2. You are constantly fatigued, often an indicator of depression
  3. You experience a disproportionate amount of rage, anger or resentment. 
  4. You have symptoms of agoraphobia which is the fear of being in places where you might experience panic attacks or become trapped.
  5. You experience anxious or intrusive thoughts that take up a significant part of your day or causes physical symptoms.
  6. You become apathetic, you lose interest in usual activities, the world around you or life in general.
  7. You experience social withdrawal, spend less and less time with family and friends, or turn down opportunities to do things you might enjoy otherwise.
  8. You experience hopelessness, feel you have no future, that things will never get better. At its worst, overwhelming feelings of hopelessness can lead to thoughts of suicide.
Beautiful mixed race African American girl teenager female young woman sad depressed or worried looking out of a window

This article includes the following information: “Mental health issues are common. Recent statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Health show 1 out of every 5 American adults lives with a mental health condition, while 1 in 20 adults experience a serious mental health condition each year. 1 in 6 U.S. youth age 6-17 experience a mental health disorder. Only about 40% of people with mental health issues get help…Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people in the United States between the ages of 10 and 34. About 90% of people who die by suicide in the U.S. lived with a mental health condition.” 

On a special note: it is important to know where to turn or where to direct someone who mentions they are having suicidal thoughts by looking up suicide hotlines that can provide immediate help and directions.

There is no shame is recognizing that life’s stresses have caused us to experience one or more of these symptoms that are indicators that you might benefit from finding a therapist who can help you process these issues and facilitate your healing.

In my next blog I will invite you to consider some of the many types of therapies that exist so you can be a good consumer of what you or someone you care about needs to help address your emotional pain.

Invitation for Reflection

  1. To what extent is this new information for you about the signs that you or someone else you know might benefit from therapy? What specifically is new to you? Notice how it makes you feel to gain this information.
  2. What have been your attitudes in the past about someone seeking therapy? Have you or others around you seen it as something positive or something more shameful?
  3. How might you use this information to help yourself and/or those you care about?  

Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute