The decision to come to therapy can be scary – scary af, to be honest. It can be difficult to know what to expect, where to start, and whether you’re at a spot in your life where you would truly benefit from attending sessions.
Most of us initially feel uncertain when we have the idea of attending therapy sessions. “Do I really need to go?” is often a question we ask ourselves, and even those around us. If you find yourself considering a therapy appointment, and you’re unsure if it’s right for you at this moment, you’ve come to the right post!
Let’s start with some common misconceptions about therapy – you absolutely do not have to be “crazy” to attend therapy sessions. You also don’t have to come for every little struggle you are experiencing. Before making your first appointment, consider where you are at with any of the following symptoms or experiences:
Overwhelming, Interfering Symptoms
A perfect world doesn’t exist, and being stressed is par for the course. However, if your stress (or any other symptom like sadness, anger, anxiety, mood swings, etc.) feels unmanageable, it’s definitely time to consider reaching out. Unmanageable symptoms begin to interfere with other domains in our lives. Maybe your work or school performance is suffering. Perhaps your relationships with others are becoming more challenging, or even nonexistent. You may find yourself losing sleep, or “coping” with these feelings with unhealthy mechanisms like drinking, drugs, overeating, or self-harm. These are all indicators that you may benefit from the guidance and assistance of a therapist.
Have you recently experienced a frightening or distressing event? Actually, let’s change that question. Although I said “recently,” it doesn’t have to be within the past week. Trauma symptoms can take months or years to develop; we know this to be true in our field. If you’ve experienced any trauma in your life, and you find yourself increasingly experiencing flashbacks, panic attacks, or nightmares, a professional is able to help.
Numbness or Disconnect
Part of growing and changing can sometimes mean that our interests change. But sometimes we just know that something else is amiss. Being unable to feel a range of emotions, and missing out on feeling great doing things that you typically find joy in, makes us feel numb and disconnected. Sometimes these feelings are fleeting and temporary. However, if you’ve been feeling like nothing can make you happy anymore, reach out. Waiting too long can intensify these feelings and make it harder to feel motivated for change.
So you’ve identified what your challenges are and you’ve tried a bunch of strategies to help – great! But now you feel like a hamster stuck on a wheel – you’re doing the same things over and over, and seeing no results (or negative results). What happens when you’ve tried it all and STILL don’t feel better? Here’s the reality – we cannot handle everything on our own. In fact, there is absolutely no reason you should be expected to. And that’s what therapists are here for. You’ve realized what you are doing just isn’t helping, and you don’t quite know what to do instead. We’re here when you need support, a gentle push in making progress, or guidance to going deeper into what’s causing you pain so that you CAN achieve goals and see results. Feeling stuck is your Self’s way of saying, “Hey, I think I need some help here; something is happening but I don’t know what it is and I don’t quite know what to do about it.”
A Wellness Perspective
Wow, all that stuff sounds super heavy! Listen to this, though – you can and should come to therapy for positive reasons, too. Consider making your first appointment if:
You WANT to make a change
Your willingness to take personal responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions is a catalyst in achieving goals, making progress, and seeing results. If you don’t want to be in a therapy office, you really won’t reap the benefits of what your therapist has to offer. But if you’re with us because you are open to change, you’re winning part of the battle already, and you will gain from scheduling with a therapist who is the best fit for the change you want to make!
You WANT to understand, accept, and love yourself
You don’t have to be “suffering” to struggle with this. It’s a common challenge for so many people! Therapists can help you explore what’s holding you back from loving yourself. And with that goal in mind, you’re taken on a journey of understanding and accepting YOU. Through self-discovery, you’ll achieve more than this goal – this achievement in particular has a ripple effect in helping you understand how to work through your issues on your own, incorporating this new insight into your everyday survival strategy. This ultimately will help you with the next topic on this list…
You WANT to survive and thrive
You’re unhappy with something? Change it! Easier said than done, right? Setting up a therapy session may be just the ticket for motivating you into the changes you want to make in order to thrive. Maybe you want a new job, or to relocate. Maybe you simply want to better yourself as a parent, a spouse, a friend, or a person. Therapists can help you in finding strategies to cope with whatever interferes with your ability to thrive, and we love to explore your experiences and patterns with you so you’re able to find your strengths!
You WANT to reflect
A whole 50 minutes dedicated to just yourself? Yes! You are the lead star of your therapy sessions, and this can be a major relief for those of us who spend most (or all) of our time focusing on others. Your sessions provide opportunities to reflect on you – and your wants, needs, and goals – uninterrupted, and without having to share time with other responsibilities (or people). You can sit back and explore – and just be. Gaining insight and self-understanding is critical to your journey of having the life you want and becoming the best version of yourself.
You WANT to experiment and explore
Therapy is a safe environment where you can practice different things that will impact your current self and your future self. You can try new strategies, explore feelings and experiences, and discover what’s next for you. If there is a big symptom you want to change – like shyness, or people pleasing – the counseling office is a low-risk place to test the waters, free of judgement!
Listen, life’s tough. You don’t need a diagnosis to sit on our couch. You don’t need to be experiencing some elaborate crisis or change to come to our office. Just living is stressful. Everyday stressors can really take their toll on our well-being, and sometimes talking to friends and family doesn’t seem to cut it for us. They may not give you their undivided attention, and they won’t be unbiased. Anyone and everyone can benefit from talking to someone who isn’t directly in their life. Therapists are chill with hearing you vent, and sometimes that’s really all you need.
Of course, this list is not the be-all and end-all of your choice – there are many factors that come into play, and some may be more major than this, like a diagnosis, illness, or addiction. But if you are considering making an appointment, and you find yourself nodding to one or more of this list’s topics, reach out – whether it’s to us, another professional, your insurance, or your family doctor. There are many resources out there to help you decide if setting up an appointment is best for you right now.