May 7, 2020/Mental Health

Need Help Navigating Through Life? Try Therapy

And a few reasons why your BFF shouldn’t be your therapist

Man talking to therapist

We all have that friend who we turn to for advice and comfort. But your go-to person can’t hold a candle to a professional therapist.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

If you’ve been under the assumption that therapy is only for people who’ve been through traumatic experiences, it’s time to reconsider. There is always a place for therapy in your life.

Clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD, shares 10 reasons — big and small — why people go to therapy and also reveals when it’s time to get help.

10 reasons why people seek out a therapist

Dr. Borland says these are the most common reasons for therapy:

  • Adjustment difficulties: “Change is the one constant in life, but we don’t always know how to adapt and deal with it,” explains Dr. Borland. Whether you’re navigating life after retirement or graduation, a therapist can help you find a path forward.
  • Compulsive behavior: A qualified therapist has the toolkit to help you deal with substance abuse, overspending, gambling and pornography addiction.
  • Feeling stuck: “People often tell me that while they don’t feel like they’re moving backward, they don’t feel like they’re moving forward either,” says Dr. Borland. “If your wheels are spinning and you’re not progressing in your career, a relationship or with day-to-day goals, therapy is a way to sort through it.”
  • Inadequacy: If you find you’re comparing yourself to others, you may need help processing and overcoming those feelings. “I now see a lot of people who feel like they have shortcomings, often stemming from time spent on social media,” says Dr. Borland.
  • Loss: You may need help coming to terms with the death of a loved one or processing the loss of a job or relationship.
  • Phobias: We all experience fears — some rational, some not-so-much. But fear is real, whether you think you should be feeling it or not.
  • Sadness: The blues range from merely feeling down to full-blown depression. If you find yourself less happy or having less interest in activities you used to enjoy, a therapist can help.
  • Trauma: “If you or a loved one experience a traumatic event such as an accident or assault, you must address the experience and related feelings with a professional,” says Dr. Borland.
  • Worry: If life’s stressors have you feeling overwhelmed, a trained therapist can help you uncover the reasons behind the anxiety and help you move forward.

“There isn’t a right or wrong reason to find a trusted professional who can help you find peace and happiness in your life,” says Dr. Borland.

Your therapist genuinely wants what’s best for you

Your friends and family want what’s best for you, but does that mean they should be your sole source for advice? “It’s essential to have a support network, but sometimes their opinions can be biased,” says Dr. Borland. “Professional therapists come from a place of wanting what’s best for you while looking at things from an objective standpoint. They emphasize skill-building and can provide tools to help you move forward.”

Advertisement

Dr. Borland tells people that therapy is not necessarily about fixing, but more about helping people develop the ability to manage their experiences and expectations. “How we perceive experiences also makes a difference — therapy may help you change the lens through which you view something,” he says. “Instead of looking through a lens of negativity, for example, we could swap it out for one of gratitude.”

Therapy is a process, so Dr. Borland urges people to recognize that seeing results takes time. It’s also crucial to find a therapist you can open up to — and if the connection isn’t there, it’s OK to seek out another professional. “Your therapist wants what’s best for you and will understand if you need to switch therapists.”

Why people don’t go to therapy

Dr. Borland says there are usually four main reasons why people avoid therapy. He offers his solutions for how to overcome the obstacles:

  • Cost: “Many people don’t recognize that health insurance covers therapy. If yours doesn’t, ask the facility if they offer a sliding-scale fee,” recommends Dr. Borland. “Remember to prioritize your health when looking at your expenses.”
  • Logistics: If transportation is an issue, ask your provider if they offer telehealth visits.
  • Stigma: “Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that therapy is only for certain people or situations, but we need to keep fighting that stigma,” says Dr. Borland. “If this were a medical condition, you wouldn’t hesitate to see a professional. There should be no difference when it comes to mental and emotional health.”
  • Weakness: There is nothing weak about seeking out professional help. It takes strength to see a therapist and face your concerns.

Don’t delay seeking therapy

There’s no right or wrong time to seek out a therapist. Not feeling right and no longer wanting to feel a certain way is reason enough to make the call.

“If you’re questioning whether to come in or not … come in,” says Dr. Borland. “Don’t apologize. You won’t be wasting anyone’s time. Nothing you bring to a therapy session is too trivial to be addressed together.”

Dr. Borland often sees people who are caretakers by nature. “These people do so much for everyone else and often put their own needs farther down on the priority list. When they come to me, they apologize because they don’t feel it’s reasonable for them to be there,” he relates. “In reality, it’s the exact opposite: It’s so important they are finally prioritizing their health and well-being.”

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person relaxing in bathtub
February 2, 2024/Wellness
How To Relieve Muscle Soreness After a Massage

The same things you do to treat sore muscles after exercise can help treat soreness after a massage

Child and parent meeting with mental health therapist.
February 6, 2023/Parenting
What To Do and What Not To Do When Your Child Is in Therapy

Be involved in your kid’s care, but be mindful of boundaries

A couple going through marriage couseling
January 29, 2023/Sex & Relationships
5 Signs You May Need Marriage Counseling

Relationship guidance from a professional can help with communication, intimacy and trust

Phsychologist and child patient in talk therapy session, sitting on bean bag chairs.
January 10, 2023/Children's Health
How To Choose the Best Child Therapy and Therapist

Look for comfort, fit and a feeling of partnership

Person stepping through a tranquil window.
January 4, 2023/Mental Health
Everything You Need To Know Before Starting Therapy

Research types, find a therapist who fits you and remember — therapy isn’t a sign of weakness

finding the right help for mental health
June 7, 2021/Mental Health
How to Find a Therapist

Tips for new patients and those continuing therapy

man using SAD lamp in winter
September 17, 2020/Brain & Nervous System
Will a SAD Sun Lamp Actually Make You Happy?

Light therapy can boost sleep and help fight depression

Illustration of a man and woman in a therapy session
October 17, 2019/Mental Health
Can Therapy Hurt You – and How Can You Tell It’s Not Working?

The short answer from a psychologist

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey

Ad