I've noticed a similarity between all my clients. They all struggled with if they should or shouldn't seek out professional help.
Many put off reaching out for help until they hit rock bottom others remain waffling back and forth for months before they decide to take action. You may think that you already have people in your life you can talk to (how's that been working out for you?) or that you can figure it out on your (with Google's help of course!)
I get it.
The anxiety of talking to a virtual stranger about everything you feel like you've been doing wrong in life can be overwhelming. Not to even mention the fact that more than likely, you will be revealing to this person your deepest and darkest fears, hopes, and secrets. I'm the therapist and I get a little anxious over it! In an earlier post I discussed making sure you find a therapist that work for YOU! But that's not what this post is about. You aren't even at the part of the process to begin looking for a therapist, you are trying to decide even if you should.
I wish I could answer that for you. I also wish most people didn't have to hit rock bottom or have a crisis before asking for help. Only you know when you'll be ready to start asking questions and start working on building a better life.
I always challenge people when they say they don't need therapy because they have friends to talk to about anything. That's wonderful. Keep those friends close and appreciate them! However, talking to a friend is vastly different from talking to a completely non-bias third party. Your friends and family think they know you and probably have little to no issue telling you what they think you should do. Sometimes, it is the kick in the butt that we need. But a lot of times, it isn't. A therapist is on your side and wants you to figure out what you want. If you're ready for that then it is time to start researching therapists.
All are Welcomed
Now, we know people seek counseling because they have (or think they should be) diagnosed with a mental illness. I encourage anyone who thinks they may be suffering from a mental illness to set up an appointment with a therapist and ask them to go over the criteria of the diagnosis with you. Like always, I highly recommend staying away from WebMD, you'll just create more anxiety. Keeping that in mind, there are countless less severe reasons why people can seek counseling. You don't have to hit rock bottom before asking for help! The below can be for people suffering from a mental illness or not. They are times in your life when you would benefit from having someone there to help guide you.
- Seek help when you feel STUCK. We all hit plateaus in our life and it is normal to feel like you've been doing the same thing day in and day out with little change. Whether you just want to feel better about yourself or have a specific goal in mind such as losing weight or changing careers, counseling is the perfect place to explore those options.
- Seek help when you are going through a TRANSITION in life. We go through so many big transitions in our lives and sometimes it just doesn't hurt to have someone there to listen to you as you wade through these unknown waters. Whether it is getting ready to head to or out of college, moving to a different state, getting married, welcoming a baby, or begin planning retirement; a coach or counselor would be the perfect way for you to stay on top of your game.
- Seek help for general MAINTENANCE. We all (or are told to) continually eat healthy and exercise regularly whether you are feeling good or not to keep you healthy. Why aren't we told the same for mental health? Even if you find yourself generally content with how your life is going, having a designated hour every week, two weeks, or month just for you to be heard is just as important as diet and exercise. It doesn't matter how wonderful your life is, we are all constantly seeking self improvement. Do this with someone who has made a career out of helping people self improve every day!
If you still aren't sure I challenge you to set up an appointment with a therapist anyways. If at the first session you realize it isn't the right time for you, then no one says you have to go back! The therapist isn't going to drag you back kicking and screaming! I want you to WANT to seek help because that is when the real work begins...