• Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

How To Know If You Should Give Therapy a Try 

There have been many interpretations about what it means to go to therapy since Freud began practicing over a century ago; some believe you only go if you’re “crazy” or something is terribly wrong. Others believe it is a healthy practice of self care and share their experiences. Since the beginning of 2020, Americans began to consider a different pitch: therapy is here to help you cope, to help you deal with the difficulties of a global pandemic, mass unemployment, racial unrest, or just not being able to live the normal life you once knew.

So how do you decide if you should try therapy?

There doesn’t need to be anything critically wrong with you to talk to a professional, so how do you weigh in if you should seek out support for your mental health?

You’re struggling to function. Does getting out of bed feel like a mountain to climb every morning? Generally a sign you aren’t functioning normally. When your basic needs of sleep, eating, and being social with friends are disrupted in any way, that can be an indicator that you’re struggling. Your body reacts to things like depression and anxiety even if our minds don’t feel distressed.

Things that normally make you feel better aren’t working. With the amount of self care memes and information out there online, you may have some go to ideas about what typically makes you feel more like you. When those options cease to work, it may be time to talk with a professional.

Talking to your friends and family isn’t enough. Friends and family care and will do their best to support you but they’re not professionals. Therapy works because it is someone on the outside looking in; they can see your patterns and things that others could miss because of their bias or being too close to you.

Something stressful is approaching in your life. It is sometimes best to seek someone out before you’re in crisis so that if something does happen, you’re not waiting a month to get in to see someone who is new to you. If you’re planning a major life change that causes you distress or anxiety such as marriage, starting a family, dealing with the declining health of yourself or someone else, or making a career change, it doesn’t hurt to consult with a therapist about your feelings and the handling of this stress..

Someone suggested it. Typically if someone suggests you should try therapy, they’re not saying you’re crazy. They may see something that you’re having a hard time with that is beyond their ability to help. One of the things that is most successful in getting people through a therapist’s door is hearing someone else’s positive experience.

You want to work on yourself. This approach looks different for everyone. Maybe you want to be happier with your life, relationships, or yourself. Maybe you want to improve your relationship with work, food, or your body. You don’t need a disorder to want to improve yourself and create healthier habits.

Still not sure if you should give therapy a try? Maybe listen to some self help podcasts like Self Work, Where Should We Begin, or Therapy Chat to get a bit more insight around what to expect. YouTube channels like Kati Morton, who is a therapist that addresses a lot of therapy and mental health questions to give you an idea of what therapists are like. Or if in-person therapy seems too daunting, look at apps like TalkSpace or BetterHelp, that may feel a bit less vulnerable to try. Also, check out accounts like Cityscape’s Instagram (@cityscapecounselingchicago), it has helpful tips to give you some perspective on a number of different life struggles.

However you get there, therapists are here to help you improve parts of your life that you want to work on.

While they can’t fix all of your problems, they are skilled at guiding you to help yourself to a happier place.

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