Ep 67: When do you know it’s time to see a therapist?

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We know life can just be challenging and stressful. That’s part of living in today’s modern world.

You may have your stress under control now but you may need some help just keeping it together. Is that serious enough for therapy?

This episode gives you a few things to look for to decide if it’s time to see a therapist.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 67: When do you know it's time to see a therapist?

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

People ask me all the time how they know it’s time to see a therapist.

Life can be hard sometimes. But how do you know when you need to actually enlist the help of a complete stranger?

Therapy is shrouded in more mystery than it needs to be. It’s easy to think therapy is for just the “seriously troubled.”

  • So if you’re anxious about big changes at work maybe that’s not serious enough.
  • Or your constant worry about those tests your doctor ran last week…you just need to figure out how to deal with that.

Many of the things that stress us out and make us anxious are just everyday things.

We can rely on resilience and try hard to manage our daily challenges as they come.

And most of the time, that works because we already have a few coping skills that we learned early in life.

Some coping skills are healthy, like exercise, meditation or reaching out to connect with good friends.

Other coping skills lean towards the unhealthy, like drinking a glass or two of wine every night after dinner to unwind or using food to calm those anxious emotions.

But at the end of the day, healthy or unhealthy, coping skills do work.

Until they don’t.

  • Going for a run no longer takes the edge off.
  • Killing that entire bag of chips sends you into a serious shame spiral.
  • You isolate yourself from your friends and family and go from one Netflix binge to another.
  • You call in sick to work multiple times rather than face the stress and pressure of your new boss.

It looks like you’ve officially overwhelmed your coping skills.

Here’s how you know: when the things you’ve always done to deal with your problems suddenly don’t work anymore, that’s the time to consider a professional perspective.

This is especially true when your problems begin to affect your functioning, like keeping your job or maintaining important relationships.

And that’s really the key.

When it starts getting hard to show up in your daily life, you need to give some thought to reaching out.

How can a therapist help?

I’ve heard more times than I care to count that talking about your problems won’t solve your problems.

And that’s kind of true. There’s no magic solution in just talking. That talking has to be followed up with real action from you to create the change you need.

But don’t underestimate the power in just telling your story to someone uninterrupted.

How often do you get to do that?

Your therapy session is your time and your space. You can talk about whatever the heck you want.

You can find a lot of insight while you’re rolling out all the details and forming a timeline of events.

And because your therapist isn’t living your life with you, she has no vested interest in how your story turns out. She wants what you want.

So you get to be the hero.

All that talking can lead to some interesting discoveries.

A therapist is an objective third party. It’s a lot easier for them to get an aerial view of your life without all the bias and expectations everyone else has for you.

They will pick up on behavior patterns and ways of responding that may not be that effective for you.

It’s really hard to see all that while you’re in it.

Patterns matter.

You need to understand why you’ve responded to things a certain way. Then you can learn how to create new patterns.

The best part about therapy is that you have a team working with you.

Therapy is supposed to be collaborative. You and your therapist work together to help you determine where you want to be.

What can you work on that will help you feel some control over how you respond to what’s happening to you?

Then you can develop a plan of action to get there.

Your therapist holds you accountable in a nonjudgmental way and helps you measure your progress.

The goal of therapy is that you develop the skills to kind of be your own therapist.

This goes a long way to help you manage the everyday issues in your life.

And it might be a key factor in how you weather tough times in the future.

There are several resources that can help you connect with a therapist in your area. You can search online or ask friends for recommendations.

If you have an Employee Assistance Program benefit at work, you can easily get started there.

It may feel a little weird making that first call. But I promise the therapist on the other end doesn’t think you’re weird because you’re asking for help with regular life stress.

They see this a lot because so many people struggle these days.

And they know you’re not alone.

I’ve said before that resilience to stress is identifying your strengths and taking advantage of the resources available to you.

Therapy can be a valuable resource when you need it most.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment at mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Here’s what else I’m saying about this topic



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