It’s time to see a therapist. Psychotherapy, talk or talking therapy, counseling, or simply therapy — no matter the name it’s known by, mental health counseling can benefit people struggling with emotional difficulties, life challenges, and mental health concerns.
Therapy can help improve symptoms of many mental health conditions. In therapy, people can learn to cope with symptoms that may not respond to treatment right away. Research shows the benefits of therapy last longer than medication alone. Medication can reduce some symptoms of mental health conditions, but therapy teaches people skills to address many symptoms on their own. These skills last after therapy ends, and symptoms may continue to improve with therapist touch bases.
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.
But only about 40% of people with mental health issues get help. Untreated mental health issues often get worse and may have other negative effects. They could also lead to:
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.
The best option for anyone contemplating suicide is to get immediate help is reaching out to a suicide helpline through phone, text message, or online chat. You may be encouraged to call or visit the nearest emergency room. A therapist can help support you going forward, once you are no longer in crisis.
It may be difficult to watch a loved one deal with mental health challenges, but telling someone that they should go to therapy or that they need therapy can be stigmatizing or confrontational.
Encouraging someone you care about to look into possible therapy options, even offering to review potential therapists with them, is generally a good way to show support. People who feel forced into therapy may feel resistant and find it harder to put in the work needed to make change.
When any type of mental health or emotional concern affects daily life and function, therapy may be recommended. Therapy can help you learn about what you’re feeling, why you might be feeling it, and how to cope.
Therapy also offers a safe place to talk through life challenges such as breakups, grief, parenting difficulties, COVID impacts, or family struggles. For example, couples counseling can help you and your partner work through relationship troubles and learn new ways of relating to each other. Note that crisis resources, not couples counseling, are typically recommended for abusive relationships.
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It may take some consideration before you decide you’re ready for therapy. You might want to wait and see if time, lifestyle changes, or the support of friends and family improves whatever you’re struggling with.
The American Psychological Association suggests you consider a time to see a therapist when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life, particularly when:
If you experience any of the following emotions or feelings to the extent that they interfere with life, therapy may help you reduce their effects. It’s especially important to consider it’s time to see a therapist if you feel controlled by symptoms or if they could cause harm to yourself or others.
Sometimes therapy doesn’t “work” right away. Even in an ideal therapy situation, it can take time for symptoms to improve. – months or years. Going to therapy and seeing no change may cause frustration. Perhaps you haven’t found the right therapist, so it’s worth it to continue your search for help. If you’re still experiencing any of the symptoms above, therapy should still be an option. Don’t stop your quest to improve your mental health.
It can help to look for a therapist who treats what you’re experiencing. If you don’t have a diagnosis, you can talk to potential therapists about your symptoms. Most therapists will let you know if they’re able to treat your concern. If they can’t, they may be able to recommend someone who can.
Keep in mind different approaches may be better for different issues. If you didn’t feel heard in your previous therapy, or if your symptoms have changed since your last therapy session, a different therapist might be exactly what you to move forward.
If you’re considering therapy, you may be thinking about the possible drawbacks. Cost might be a concern for you. You might also be aware that therapy is often difficult. Trauma or other painful events from the past can be frightening to remember and discuss with someone. Working through challenges isn’t easy, and therapy isn’t always a quick fix. Make sure that when you’re ready to see a therapist that you can be honest with yourself and with your them.
But if you’re willing to do the work, therapy can be rewarding. It’s a safe, judgment-free space where you can share anything, with a trained professional who is there to help.
Even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to therapy, many therapists offer a free first session or phone consultation to talk through what you’re dealing with. Based on your symptoms, they might encourage you to get help. Begin your search for a therapist today!
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[Original article submitted by Crystal Raypol]
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