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.
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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.”
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.”