When to go to Therapy

March 26, 2024

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If you find that your mental well-being is impacting your everyday life and you’re struggling to cope alone, talking to a therapist might be helpful.

Talk therapy is a common first step in addressing mental health issues, but its benefits extend beyond those with diagnosed conditions. Therapy can be an invaluable resource for anyone looking to cope with life’s everyday challenges more effectively.

Some people hesitate to engage with therapy, worrying that their issues aren’t serious enough to warrant professional help. However, you don’t need to have a diagnosed condition or be in crisis to benefit from seeing a therapist. Therapy is accessible and beneficial to anyone seeking growth or support.

How to Know When to go to Therapy

There’s no universal response to the question, “When is it time to go to therapy?”. Consider the following scenarios in which going to therapy might be the first step toward improved mental well-being:

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Need Help Getting Mental Health Treatment?

  • Experiencing emotional distress: If you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, numbness, sadness, anger, or frustration, going to therapy could provide the relief you need.
  • Coping with trauma: Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a recent traumatic event or still feeling the impact of past trauma, therapy offers a space to process and heal.
  • Substance use as a coping mechanism: Using alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs to self-medicate emotions can indicate underlying stress or issues that therapy can address. This also extends to habits like excessive gambling or social media use, which might be masking deeper problems.
  • Struggling with mental illness: Whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or suspect you might be experiencing symptoms of an undiagnosed disorder, therapy can be beneficial. There’s no need for self-diagnosis before seeking help.
  • Ineffective coping strategies: If your usual ways of dealing with anxiety, sadness, or anger no longer work – if exercise or talking to friends doesn’t bring the same relief, for instance – it may be time to consider therapy.
  • Difficulty functioning in daily life: Challenges with performing everyday tasks, maintaining relationships, or keeping up at work or school can be signs that therapy could help improve your ability to manage life’s demands.
  • Feedback from loved ones: Sometimes, friends or family notice our struggles before we do. If people close to you suggest seeking professional help, it’s worth considering their perspective.

Therapy isn’t just for those in acute crisis, though. Anyone looking to enhance their coping skills, process difficult emotions, or simply gain a better understanding of themselves can benefit from going to therapy. Making mental health a priority can empower you to deal with life’s stressors with greater resilience and clarity.

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What Happens When You Go to Therapy?

After deciding when to go to therapy, you begin an ongoing journey of self-exploration and healing within a supportive and confidential environment. Here’s what typically happens.

Initial consultation

The first session is often about getting to know each other. Your therapist will ask questions about your life, your reasons for seeking therapy, and what you hope to achieve. This is also your opportunity to assess whether the therapist feels like the right fit for you.

Setting goals

Together with your therapist, you’ll identify and clarify your goals for therapy. These can be specific (like managing anxiety or improving relationships) or more general (like seeking personal growth or happiness).

Ongoing sessions

Regular sessions provide a space to delve deeper into your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Your therapist will use various techniques to help you understand and work through your challenges. This process can involve discussing past events, exploring patterns in your behavior or relationships, and learning new coping strategies.

Active participation

Therapy is a collaborative effort. You’re encouraged to actively participate, both during sessions and outside of them. Homework assignments, like journaling or practicing new skills, may be part of this process.

Progress and adjustments

As you progress, you and your therapist will regularly review and adjust your goals as needed. Therapy can sometimes be challenging, but it’s also a space for significant personal insight and growth.

Conclusion or continuation

Therapy may conclude once your objectives have been reached, or you might choose to continue working on other aspects of your personal development. The decision to end or continue therapy is made collaboratively based on your needs and progress.

What to Expect When Going to Therapy

When going to therapy, it’s normal to feel a mix of emotions, from nervousness to hope. Understanding what to expect can ease some of that apprehension and set the stage for a more positive therapeutic alliance.

The first session typically involves an assessment where the therapist learns about you, your background, and what brings you to therapy. This is a chance for both of you to establish a rapport and set the foundation for your work together. Therapists strive to create a welcoming and safe environment where you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of therapy, ensuring that everything you discuss remains private.

Early on, you will collaborate with your therapist to identify your treatment goals. These could range from managing symptoms of a mental health condition or coping with life transitions to improving relationships and achieving personal growth.

Therapy sessions are conversations in which you explore your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships. Your therapist might introduce exercises or techniques to help you gain insights, challenge unhelpful patterns, and develop new strategies for coping. Homework assignments can help reinforce these new skills.

The length and number of sessions depend on your unique needs and goals. Some people find short-term therapy beneficial, while others engage in longer-term treatment.

Going to therapy is a proactive step, then, but what can you expect to gain from the process?

Outcomes of Going to Therapy

Key benefits of engaging with therapy include:

  • Self-discovery: Therapy offers insights into your personality and life experiences, helping to identify patterns and offering guidance when you feel adrift. It empowers you to initiate changes from within.
  • Goal setting and achievement: If defining your goals feels challenging, therapy can help in clarifying them and mapping out attainable steps toward reaching these objectives.
  • Enhanced relationships: Therapy helps in resolving interpersonal issues, improving relationship security, and building trust.
  • Improved overall health: There’s a well-documented connection between mental and physical health. Addressing mental health concerns through therapy can positively impact your physical well-being and equip you to handle physical health challenges more effectively.
  • Life improvement: If you sense barriers to living life to its fullest, therapy can help identify and overcome these obstacles, facilitating personal growth and change.

For those uncertain about committing to therapy, many therapists offer an initial session or consultation at no charge. This meeting can help you articulate your challenges and decide on the next steps, potentially guiding you towards the support you need.

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Engage in Mental Health Treatment at Connections Mental Health

If you or a loved one need help addressing mental health issues, we can help you at Connections in Southern California.

We offer compassionate and effective mental health therapy at our beachside facility. The inpatient nature of treatment enables you to engage with an array of therapies in a welcoming, inclusive environment free of distractions and triggers.

From CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) to motivational therapies, counseling, and holistic therapies, access personalized treatments and improve well-being while restoring everyday functioning.

Call admissions at 844-759-0999 and begin therapy sessions right away.

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