Should I go to therapy?

The idea of therapy can be a little daunting to some people, and understandably so. Opening up about your deepest, darkest secrets to a total stranger doesn’t come naturally to most of us, and why would it? Vulnerability can be scary!

However, if something’s going on and you feel like you might need help, therapy is a great option. Many people question whether they actually need therapy. Others worry about what people might think. But feeling better is the ultimate goal, and sometimes therapy is the solution for that.

Needing more than a support system

A support system—or a few people you can talk to and trust—is great to have when you’re going through difficult times. Someone to provide a listening ear when you really need to talk, and maybe offer some helpful advice, is a valuable part of life. However, a support system can only do so much, and more support is needed.

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to your friends and loved ones about the challenges you are facing. They probably don’t have the expertise to help you with a mental health condition. And if they do, it’s also not fair to make them do their job for free. Some reasons you may not feel comfortable talking to your support system are

  • If you want to talk about self-harm for example, they might react poorly out of fear
  • Maybe your friends, family, or significant other ARE the problem you need to talk about
  • You’re worried that venting too much may drive them away
  • You may worry that they may judge or not fully understand what you are experiencing

A therapist is being paid to listen to your problems, so you don’t have to worry about draining them. Speaking to a mental health professional in addition to your support system may provide you with more guidance. They can help you target your mental health concerns and provide an outside perspective. They can also provide a safe space for you to express your feelings. If you’re unsure whether your support system can give you all the support that you need, then therapy might be a good option for you.

How therapy can help

Sometimes life feels like putting together furniture without instructions… There is no “how-to guide” for life because it’s so unique. Therapy helps me to identify patterns, and take inventory of my tools and strengths so that I have the clarity to build the best life possible.

Niya, 29

Therapy comes in many forms and styles, and each person will respond differently to any number of them. Cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, and many others work differently for everyone. A therapist will work with you to help you figure out what is best for your needs and situation. Some benefits of therapy might include:

  • Less intrusive thoughts
  • Calmer, less anxious state of mind
  • Feeling more like yourself
  • Better sleep
  • Decrease in chronic pain/illness symptoms
  • Healing past wounds/trauma
  • A safe space to open up and receive the support you need
  • A suitable treatment plan tailored to your needs
  • Feeling less alone in your mental health challenges

These are just a few of the benefits that therapy can provide. Depending on your situation, therapy might be the best option for you. Meeting with a therapist doesn’t require a commitment, so there’s no harm in trying.

Not everyone is ready for therapy— and that’s ok, too. There are many do it yourself (DIY) resources available to get you started if you’re not sure if therapy is right for you. Also taking mental health tests are helpful for understanding if your experiences may be a sign of a mental health condition.

What a therapist can help you do

There are many things that therapy can do for you. Maybe you feel as if something is missing or wrong or you’re confused about how to handle a certain situation. Or you simply have a bad feeling that you just can’t seem to shake. Therapy can help you work through these feelings.

A therapist can help you identify, learn, and build the skills you need or already have. This includes coping skills like processing stress, triggers, grief, and trauma. They can also help you build skills that help you better manage a mental health condition. For example, if you live with anxiety, therapy can provide you with ways to stay grounded and present in the moment to help you not get lost in your thoughts. The right therapist can help you gain the tools that you need to improve your mental health and your life.

I think that therapy has helped me be a lot more self-aware of my strengths, my boundaries, and coping skills that work for me. Getting diagnosed with PTSD and MDD helped me personally see why I act the way I do, because I thought I was just going “crazy.” Therapy has helped me be kinder to myself by being less judgmental of my thoughts.

Janelle, 22

Finding a therapist

Before finding a therapist, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for therapy. This includes thinking about your goals for therapy and figuring out what you want to look for in a therapist. You may also consider what questions you want to ask. Based on their answers and how they make you feel, you can decide if they are the right therapist for you.

It’s important to know that you do not have to stick with the first therapist that you see. Sometimes, it takes time to find the right therapist. And preparing and asking questions will help you find the right therapist for you.

Many people wonder if therapy is right for them. Some feel ashamed or embarrassed for seeking help with their mental health, while others aren’t quite sure if their problems are “big” enough. Therapy can be an amazing tool in your search for healing and support. If you’re ready to jump into therapy, try finding a therapist here. If you feel like you need therapy, it’s probably a good idea. Allow yourself the support you need to find your safe space.

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