When is it Time to See a Therapist?
Tracey Tanenbaum is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Staff Therapist at Council for Relationships. She also serves as the Community Partnership Initiative Clinical Specialist.
When is it time to start seeing a therapist? The answer to that question will vary for each individual. In this blog post, I explore a few common reasons clients book their first appointment.
Difficulty in Life Transitions
People seek therapy for a variety of reasons, and at different times in their lives. Big transitions often evoke the kinds of questions that bring clients into a therapist’s office. Graduation from college, retirement, the loss of a job, or a relationship, are some examples of the large scale changes that can accompany huge emotions for people. With the support and guidance of a competent and caring therapist, clients can get through difficult feelings and squeeze meaning out of these major life transitions.
Many of my clients come to therapy because they report feeling “stuck.” They feel as though they are passively moving through life as opposed to actively making choices on their own behalf. Their relationships feel fraught or stalled. In those situations, my goal is to help people identify the “blocks” that get in the way, and do what I can to help “shrink” those blocks down to a maneuverable size.
Overwhelming Anxiety or Distress
Of course, there are plenty of more immediate signs that can tip people off to the need for professional help. If life constantly feels overwhelming and anxiety-provoking or if someone sustains a difficult event that causes undue and prolonged distress (interrupted sleep or flashbacks for example), it may be time to seek the assistance of a vetted therapist.
Dysfunctional Coping Mechanisms
Additionally, if a person’s usual way of coping with life’s challenges no longer work, or if they’ve been replaced by dysfunctional means (abusing drugs, alcohol or food for example) then an investment in a therapist is a worthy investment in oneself.