The decision to do therapy is a personal one. Certain circumstances may make you a “good contender”. For example, if you’re struggling with depression you may need treatment, but there aren’t requirements for people interested in going on this journey. If you want to start therapy or you think you could benefit, that is reason enough. And nothing should get in your way of doing so. That being said, there is no shame in seeking out help are when you think it’s time to start.
Your family and friends may sometimes be great resources when you’re in need of help. But there may also be times when you feel like you just can’t turn to them. Maybe it’s because you need help figuring out relationship issues and they know your partner, and it would be embarrassing to talk to them about it; or perhaps you feel like they would biased if you wanted to talk about changing careers. Whatever the case, sometimes we need an unbiased, confidential person beyond friends and family to turn to. And that’s where a good therapist can come in.
Whether this is external resources like people in your life who are willing/able to help you or internal resources like having no more coping tools for what it is you’re dealing with, seeking out professional help when you feel like you’re running out of resources is a wise move. Your therapist will literally be a resource for you and together you two can come up with ideas and a plan to help you gain new coping tools.
Do you want to be happier? Less stressed? Enjoy life more? Improve your relationships? Recover from a divorce? The key to attaining all these goals and many others is the same…improving your relationship with yourself!
From the perspective of someone who regularly sees new patients, I want to tell you this: It’s not always easy to open up to a stranger. You have to trust the process and know that it’s up to YOU to guide how much you want to open up to your therapist and ultimately, that will dictate the quality of therapy that they’re able to give you (as without the utmost honesty, they can’t fully explore how to best guide you to the fullest based of their training and capabilities). But although it feels unnatural at first to expose all your secrets and truths to a total stranger when you’ve likely previously dedicated so much energy to secrecy and mistrust… fight through those feelings. Be honest anyway, in spite of what your fears tell you. The more you practice it, the easier it will become.
Talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) can be an important part of treatment for depression, bipolar disorder or other mood disorders. A good therapist can help you cope with feelings, problem solve and change behavior patterns that may contribute to your symptoms.
Talk therapy is not just “talking about your problems”; it is also working toward solutions. Some therapy may involve homework, such as tracking your moods, writing about your thoughts, or participating in social activities that have caused anxiety in the past. You might be encouraged to look at things in a different way or learn new ways to react to events or people.
Most of today’s talk therapy is focused on your current thoughts, feelings and life issues. Focusing on the past can help explain things in your life, but focusing on the present can help you cope with the present and prepare for the future. You might see your therapist or counselor more often when you first begin working with them, and later, as you progress towards your goals, you might have appointments less often.
Talk therapy can help you
- Understand your mental health condition;
- Define and reach wellness goals;
- Overcome fears or insecurities;
- Cope with stress;
- Make sense of past traumatic experiences;
- Separate your true personality from the moods caused by your condition;
- Identify triggers that may worsen your symptoms;
- Improve relationships with family and friends;
- Establish a stable, dependable routine;
- Develop a plan for coping with crises;
- Understand why things bother you and what you can do about them; and
- End destructive habits such as excessive drinking, using drugs, overspending or unhealthy sex.
How will I know if I’m making progress?
Within the first few weeks, make a list of short and long-term goals with your therapist. It may be helpful to track how you feel each day and how you cope with difficult situations. After some time has passed, check the list and see if you’re closer to reaching your goals. Review your progress with your therapist. Improvement won’t happen overnight, but you should see some change, even if it’s just a better understanding of your own thoughts and feelings. It is also helpful to learn everything you can about depression and bipolar disorder (LINK TO MOOD DISORDERS) and their treatments.