How do you know when it’s time to seek psychotherapy?
Some women have no trouble making this decision, while others struggle to decide. For some, therapy is a helpful tool they have used in the past and know they will use again. Others feel afraid, want to try as hard as they can to manage on their own without help, or use other kinds of helpful and supportive ways to feel better. This could be religious/spiritual support, meditation, mindfulness, family and friends’ support or some kind of coaching. All of these are great ways to get help and can work very well for many women.
On the psychcentral blog , Dr. John Grohol lists the following 5 reasons to seek therapy :
*You are feeling significant distress
The problems aren’t coming and going as usual, but are sticking around for awhile. *you are having trouble sleeping, eating, or concentrating, *your work performance is dropping, *you are so anxious you are having trouble doing things that used to be no problem, like using public transportation or driving over bridges. *you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or are engaging in self-harming behavior.
*Everything you have tried hasn’t worked
Women may tend to try more self-help ideas than men, and may have bookshelves full of self-help books. They may read them or collect them. If the ideas are useful and you can put them into practice that’s great. But what about knowing what to do and finding yourself unable to actually do it?
*Your friends and family are tired of listening to you.
Many women tend to connect emotionally with their friends and like to talk about personal situations and problems. Have you noticed that your friends are beginning to shy away from you and want to see you less often? Are you feeling unsure why, but bad about yourself for this reason? Often friends and family will want to tell you what to do, which may feel fine and interesting at the time, but can become confusing when you are not sure what your opinion is and whether they are being biased by their point of view. And if you talk about the same problem enough times, your support network may begin to tell you what to do even more strongly which feels bad for everyone.
*You begin to notice yourself abusing a drug or another person.
In these times, women are drinking and using drugs more openly than in the past. There is less shame about this and college is a time when a lot of drinking behavior goes on. You may run with a heavy drinking crowd or drink alone. How can you tell when your alcohol or recreational drug usage is turning into a problem? Or are you turning to food or exercise as a way to soothe your feelings or punish yourself for feeling bad about yourself? As Dr. Grohol points out, you might also turn to other addictions including sex, spending, or internet usage. Sometimes these problems become so entrenched they need to be looked at first in order to be able to get stable and address the upsets that are underneath. In other situations, when you feel better about the main problem that is bothering you, the substance/behavior problems improve also. As for abusing another person, this is a sure way to make whatever you are feeling bad about only feel worse. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, but the way you handle and express it is something we are not taught in school. Many parents for numbers of reasons, do not model healthy conflict resolution skills or teach their daughters how to be assertive and feel empowered. For women, it may sometimes be that anger can show up in the form of jealousy, competitiveness, or criticism, as well as arguing. If you are having a problem, the way you handle your anger can significantly impact your relationships.
*People have noticed your distress and have said something to you.
When people start to notice something is wrong, that is a good measure that you may not be able to handle whatever your challenge is. Or you may be using the defense of denial, which can cause you to believe that you are fine and everyone else who is “criticizing” you has the problem.
Other reasons for women to seek psychotherapy:
*You have a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or a physical problem that caused or causes you distress.
Trauma is unavoidable in life, but repeated small “t” trauma or capitol “T” Trauma (such as life threatening events, accidents, or assaults) can leave wounds that make everyday life more challenging. The same is true for physical ailments and medical treatments that are painful and scary. Also, mysterious illnesses that cannot be diagnosed conventionally can be very frustrating, painful, and debilitating.
*You have a recent or past loss that is overwhelming and unresolved.
This can be the death of a parent, sibling, family member, pet, or close friend. Other losses can include the loss of the chance to have a happy childhood, loss of the chance to have children, or loss of time due to an injury.
Women in psychotherapy, how can you tell when is a good time to try this kind of help?
I hope you will find these ideas useful. Also, remember that there are many kinds of psychotherapy with myriads of techniques. If you are feeling confused about this, it can be helpful to discuss with a therapist by telephone to get more information about what might be best for you. Or you may have an idea from an advertisement or something your friend tried. I believe helpful psychotherapy offers you a variety of techniques as well as a helpful and supportive relationship. When you are choosing a psychotherapist, it is a good idea to find someone you feel comfortable with and feel a good connection.
Here’s another blog on why to go into therapy.
Photo by Kosta Kostove at Public Domain Pictures.