How Do You Know You Need Therapy?
No, not everyone needs therapy and you do not need therapy for every situation. Before you decide whether you need therapy or not, consider the following:
- Bad things happen to everyone – death of someone you love, divorce, debt, break-ups, abuse, transitions, and so on. For the less serious negative things in life, it may be enough to talk about it with friends or relatives. If, however, you find that you are emotionally stuck in a negative situation for far longer than seems healthy, it might be a good idea to explore therapy options. For example, it is normal to grieve – even for a long time – when one is bereaved. However, grief may become pathological if time brings no relief or acceptance of the death, or if the grief is complicated by feelings of guilt. It may be time to get help.
- Sometimes the negative emotions surrounding an event are so strong and overwhelming, that one seems unable to go on with normal life or to move on, or to see things objectively enough in order to deal with them. For example, a divorce may be so emotionally wracking, that one is unable to deal with the practical issues surrounding the divorce. This might signal the need for therapy.
- If one fulfills the diagnosis for a psychiatric illness as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) or the ICD, one may need a pharmacotherapy or a psychotherapy, or both. It is recognised that these diagnoses signify a situation beyond the range of normal human experience and that help beyond normal human experience is required.
- If a negative situation from the past still seems to play a big role in your present life, and influences present emotional states as well as actions and thinking patterns, it may be wise to get help. This often happens for example if one was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child or a youth, when one has experienced a traumatic (life-threatening) event and so on. One may need professional help to deal with such situations.
- If one is in a situation where coping is required because there maybe no solution, or when one cannot seem to find solutions for problems that can be solved, therapy may be a good option. For example, if one is suddenly diagnosed as terminally ill, one may need to explore coping solutions that one cannot develop alone. Help may be required.
In such situations, conversations with friends and relatives alone may not bring the needed relief, because they may lack the professional skills to carry one through intense emotional states or to ask the difficult questions that elicit what we really think or feel, or to help us examine an alternative point of view.
In such situations, we may be unable to get by by ourselves (as we may be used to doing) or to solve it in private.
It is as if we were lying on the ground, hurt, and cannot get up without help. Or, as if we are lost in a wood where we have never been before. It makes sense to accept a helping hand to get us back on our feet again, till we can walk alone. It makes sense to get a guide in the woods, till we get to a part of the woods that we recognise.