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How do I know if I need therapy?

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

This is an interesting question because it can be answered in so many different ways. A starting point for me is to recognise that Therapy is not like a medical treatment. It is not harmful to try it out and see if it is helpful.

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From personal experience, I have had therapy at times when I have definitely needed help and at other times when I have just had a sense that I could make use of the time and space with a therapist to help me with my personal development. Part of the reason I offer a free initial meeting is so that the idea of therapy can be explored together if necessary.

Some people 'need' therapy because life has become unbearable and it feels too difficult to carry on. this might be because they have symptoms of trauma or depression that they find unbearable or affect how they function day to day. Some people will have these symptoms but still don't feel the 'need' for therapy or feel ready to meet a therapist. Often people around them who care about them are very worried. It is important that people are not pushed into having therapy to please someone else. This can have very negative outcomes. If you are concerned about someone else then please don't hesitate to book for a free initial consultation where we can explore what might be helpful for you.

How many times in the course of normal life do you get someone's undivided attention to listen to what you are thinking, feeling, experiencing in life, with none of their own agenda? Having someone who is committed to offering you the right conditions to make an effective therapeutic relationship and who has worked on their own personal development so that they don't need anything from you and won't impose anything on you is a really powerful. The feeling of containment and safety allows you to develop trust and the freedom to express things you otherwise would struggle with alone.

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Sometimes people worry that they might not be able to use therapy because they don't understand their problems and why they are struggling. This was exactly my experience when I first went to therapy. I knew I was carrying a lot of emotions but had no idea why. A good therapist can help you to find a starting point and can work with you in a way that allows you to carefully uncover your needs and identify the changes you want to make. Some forms of therapy work on identifying 'wrong' thoughts and using 'prescribed' alternatives to address uncomfortable feelings. However, it is my firm belief that you have your own inner voice that is wise enough to know what you need and how to change. I won't be telling you what to think or how to feel, I will be trying to help you find your inherent wisdom and to trust it. Carl Rogers called this wisdom the 'internal locus of evaluation' and suggested that with the right environment, the core conditions, you can return to this voice and by listening and making the changes needed you will personally develop, self self-actualise.

Therefore, I think the question should be "am I ready for therapy?" This is a very personal question because I think we ourselves are the only ones who know. You will know if you are ready for therapy for one of a few reasons. The most obvious is that you are tired or fed-up of being how you are, it takes energy to 'not be you'. We call this incongruence, when 'who you are' in the world is not who/how you are inside. Sometimes, this is experienced as depression, the brain's way of damping down emotions to make life more bearable, or anxiety, the nervous system's response to feeling at odds with the world. Another indication is that you feel ready to accept some help. I experienced this as a tiredness that I knew was from struggling for too long accompanied by a loneliness inside. I couldn't think of an alternative option and actually the realisation felt like a relief. After my first experience of therapy, it became a lot easier to decide to seek more help. I was fortunate that my first experience of therapy was good, not easy, but good. The benefit to me was very apparent.

Why not commit to half an hour of meeting for an initial conversation about therapy to see if it is right for you? This is a completely free, no strings attached, appointment. You can walk away without any need to ever come back, I won't contact you unless you ask me to after this appointment.

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