When should you seek therapy?

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When I’m asked to speak to groups of people or when people find out I’m a therapist they often do two things, try to get free therapy in the bar or nail salon by going into all their problems or ask if they should see a therapist. First, please stop asking healthcare professionals to diagnose you off the clock. It’s weird and rude. Second, I believe EVERY PERSON should have access to and seek therapy. Usually that response is too simple for folks and they want more details and more criteria. So, I’m going to do this lil list, but know that I believe that any time and any reason is good enough to see a therapist.

Talking to a professional just because you need or want to, is a good enough reason to see a therapist.

  1. 1. When you experience a loss
  • Loss encompasses many things. It can mean the loss of a person or pet due by death, it can mean loss of a relationship unrelated to death, it can mean loss of a job, loss of a valuable item, loss of an opportunity, loss of physical or mental ability, and loss of an idea about something. No matter the loss, grief occurs and creates these feelings of sadness, feeling like something is missing, possibly anger, or resentment to varying degrees.  These feelings alter how we navigate the world, how we see the world, and how we see ourselves. It can be extremely helpful to process these worldview changes in therapy. I can definitely say two of the hardest losses I’ve experienced was my best friend ending our friendship in my early 20’s and my dad dying in 2019 for similar and different reasons. Both losses made me look those relationships differently and both made me look at myself differently. Y’all, my emotions felt like they were fighting for the championship belt; sadness, anger, disrespect, confusion, regret, guilt, doubt, and revelation coursed through me for months and years at any given moment and sometimes at the same time. I didn’t seek therapy after that friend breakup, but I chose to seek therapy after my dad died because I knew I couldn’t process that on my own nor with my loved ones.
  1. 2. When you are going thru a life change
  • The old saying goes the only thing in life that’s guaranteed is change. And the is totally true. Our lives, our minds, and our bodies are constantly changing. We’ve all experienced significant change in life the past couple years. Not all changes are bad though. Some changes like starting a new job, relationship, having a child, are generally pretty happy and satisfying shifts. However, happy changes don’t always mean easy changes. All these changes actually require a lot from a person. Learning new skills from moment to moment, having to retain that information, having to make split decisions, having to consider a new person’s or set of person’s needs and desires. It’s a lot. Or moving to a new city. Do we even have to talk about how that change can warrant therapy?  

3. When you or someone else notices a significant mood shift

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Photo by Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji on Pexels.com
  • Sometimes when we’re going through different seasons, literal weather seasons or phases in life, it can affect our mood. There is some normalcy around that, but there are also some really big mood shifts that should you definitely seek help to manage. Your mood refers to your emotions, your feelings and sensations, your responses to things, and your approach to things. When you feel these things shifting in a way that causes negative consequences in any part of your life, you should see a therapist. For example, if you notice that you have less energy during the day, are sleeping more, have less motivation to complete work tasks or socialize, you become more irritable and standoffish, feel nothing and these things are affecting your familial or friend relationships, your ability to finish your work, or causing physical issues, definitely see a therapy. If you start to consider dying, killing yourself, or harming yourself definitely seek immediate support* and therapy. Sometimes though, we cannot see these shifts in ourselves, so listen if your loved ones tell you they see a change that doesn’t seem like a good one.

Y’all, my emotions felt like they were fighting for the championship belt

4. When you just need someone to talk to

  • You can see a therapist when everything is going well. You may have good relationships, be financially stable, healthy and still need someone relatively unbiased to help you think through things. I say relatively because a truly unbiased person doesn’t exist, but it’s something that many therapists actively work towards. Anyways, although we have all these seemingly good things going, we still might need a new perspective, someone to help us sort through our thoughts and feelings or help us navigate conflict. Sometimes, we feel too burdened to talk to our loved ones and sometimes the loved ones’ support is just not cutting it, so seeking an outside source to listen and process with us can help us to be our best in the good areas of our lives. It can help us be more appreciative, present, and calm in the good areas of our lives.  Talking to a professional just because you need or want to, is a good enough reason to see a therapist.

*If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or your local mobile crisis team or crisis response center. Please note that some crisis teams must contact the police, but you should not contact the police for a mental health concern.

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