When to ask for help: A beginner’s guide to therapy

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Maybe it’s intuition. Maybe it’s a change in behavior, feelings, or thoughts. Or maybe you are simply not able to manage like you used to. When you get that feeling that something just isn’t right, it’s usually your first flag that help might be needed. You usually talk to friends and family, but sometimes that just doesn’t cut it. So who do you call? What do you do? And what is this therapy thing all about anyway? Seeking help from a qualified mental health professional is often thought of as something to be ashamed of or a last resort⎯but it doesn’t need to be! Therapy can be one of the greatest things you do for your own well-being. Let’s break down the benefits of seeking out a psychotherapist.

What is psychotherapy?

Generally speaking, psychotherapy is a method for treating mental health and/or relationship problems through talking and human interaction. This could be for treatment of serious mental illness or for helping to process and cope with daily life struggles. There are various types of mental health professionals with a variety of approaches and techniques. Regardless of the therapist’s personal approach to therapy, the most important aspect of any healing relationship is the comfort level and dynamic between the people involved.

How does it work? Does it really help?

Psychotherapy helps people by providing a trusted sounding board. The therapist is someone who listens carefully, asks questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the matters at hand, and helps process situations that will lead to better quality of living. And, yes, therapy can really help! Although the number of sessions any individual, couple, or family needs is unique to each situation, most people feel a sense of relief after just the first few sessions. It is comforting to know that someone qualified is there to support you during difficult times and point you toward constructive solutions.

How do I find a therapist?

There are so many resources for finding a qualified therapist. You can start with your insurance company, a web search, a friend’s referral, or even your employee assistance program. Psychology Today‘s website offers a great database you can search. In addition to therapists in private practice, there are also community mental health facilities that offer services of all kinds.

When is the best time to check it out?

The moment you think you might need help or are feeling overwhelmed is the exact moment you should begin seeking a mental health professional to work with. For example, if:

  • You’ve been feeling down for a week or more and can’t seem to overcome it
  • You’re feeling stressed out and anxious as a result of recent challenges and need some guidance
  • Your marriage or relationship has been going through a difficult patch and the two of you need some help communicating
  • Your family has recently experienced some type of loss or trouble and you all need help together in order to keep the family strong

It is always best to seek help before the problem escalates and develops into something much larger. The sooner you seek help, the less time it will typically take to get back to a place of feeling better. People of all ages and all types can benefit from the healing and support that psychotherapy offers.

 

Originally written and published for Verily.

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