You may have been thinking about going to therapy or enlisting the help of a licensed professional for someone you love and care about. So how do you know what is typical "moodiness" or difficulties in functioning and what is thinking and behavior might require more attention? Here are some quick tips for determining if therapy is the right choice for you or someone you love...
Therapy is a good choice for you if you want to learn to:
- Reduce or eliminate negative habit patterns. If you find yourself repeating behaviors that feel good in the moment, but move you away from your goals or are not good for you in the long run, then you might want to consider breaking the habit. This can sometimes be a tricky process and some habits get wired into our brains. Here's the good news - our brains are neuro-plastic and are designed so that we can rewire them ourselves with new behaviors repeated over time.
- Improve your parenting. Do you find yourself unhappy with how parenting feels? Do you regret some of your behaviors? Therapy can help you take a look, in a neutral and supportive environment, at how you can shift some of your thinking and actions in order to create consistent and realistic goals and expectations for you and your family.
- Improve your self care. Sometimes sharing your routine with another person can highlight areas for improvement as well as open you up to additional ways of being and practicing. Areas for self care improvement are eating, sleep, exercise, personal hygiene, and other practices such as meditation and yoga etc.
- Gain a more positive outlook. Do you find yourself thinking negatively as an automatic response? Like a reflex? Sometimes hearing yourself out loud can create the desire and willingness to shift. A more positive outlook has been linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety as well as a higher incidence of reaching your goals.
- Develop a purpose or intention in life. Perhaps you have an idea of what kind of stamp you would like to make on the world, but you aren't exactly sure where to start. Or you have no idea what your purpose or intention entail. Dialogue with a professional can help you examine who you are and how you would like to fill your time and be fulfilled.
- Understand your thinking. Thinking is a process that we do completely alone. If we don't share our thoughts, then it might be difficult to understand them. Therapy can help you gain a new perspective on what you are thinking and allow you opportunity to ponder and reflect.
- Change your behavior. This is the big one! Most people come to therapy because something is wrong that they want to "fix." Therapy can help you take a deeper look into why you repeat behaviors that ultimately don't work for you or might even be hurting you. A skilled therapist can also help you devise an action plan that you a can realistically follow and goals that you can realistically achieve.
- Accept your reality. Many people come to therapy wanting and needing to complain about something they don't like. This is perfectly okay! However, over time, chronic complaining without action can lead to very negative feelings. Therapy can help you learn to tolerate situations, events and feelings that you don't particularly like or condone. Acceptance is not giving up - it is learning to allow!
- Improve your relationships. Perhaps you are in a relationship that is causing you stress. Or you would like to learn to make new friends and keep them! Therapy can help you examine and explore the dynamics in your relationships and how to make and keep healthy connections.
- Be open and authentic without fear of judgment. The therapist/client relationship is a unique one in that it offers a safe, confidential and non-judgmental place for you to show up and simply be you. Therapists are trained in offering neutral, unbiased and supportive interventions that can help you learn to open up and be your true self. If you are concealing parts of yourself that you are not ready to share with the world, therapy can be a wonderful opportunity to begin the process of authenticity.
If you are considering meeting with a therapist or counselor, take the first step and make a phone call. Find out more from the therapist if he or she thinks the process could be right for you. And if you are considering it, try it. If it isn't the right fit or right process for you, you can always terminate.
Best wishes for a successful journey.