Signs you should see a therapist (and how to find one)

Abigail Malbon
·5-min read
Photo credit: EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS - Getty Images
Photo credit: EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS - Getty Images

From Red Online

If you're feeling overwhelmed and tired right now, you wouldn't be alone - but with so much uncertainty, how do you know whether it's temporary unrest due to lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic, or a sign that you should see a therapist?

For some, that depends on their ability to cope with uncertainty - but if you're struggling right now, know that seeking help for your mental health could make all the difference.

Lynn Crilly, counsellor and author of Hope With Anxiety says: "Therapy and counselling can be a powerful and effective form of treatment for a host of emotional and mental health issues. Talking through your thoughts and feelings with someone that you trust in a non-judgemental environment can not only help you to overcome emotional challenges but start to move forward and make positive and long-lasting changes in your life.

Photo credit: Beatriz Vera / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Beatriz Vera / EyeEm - Getty Images

"Unfortunately, there is still a lot of nervousness surrounding the idea of 'counselling' and 'therapy', and many people are unsure as to what exactly goes on behind closed doors. Appreciating this, it is important to remember that the process should be a positive experience, unique to you.

"Counselling is a shared process and it is paramount that you feel comfortable and relaxed enough with your therapist to be able to work together to build up the strength and understanding together required to face the challenges and issues together."

Here's what you need to know, and how to find the right therapist for you:

Signs you should see a therapist

It's important to remember that there's absolutely no shame in seeking help - in fact, it's one of the most empowering things you can do if you're struggling. Taking that first step can be difficult, but Lynn explains that if the below symptoms apply to you, it could be a sign that you need to seek help:

  • You can't function properly

If your issues are stopping you from functioning properly on a day to day basis, a therapist could help you work through it.

  • Your relationships are suffering

If your issues are affecting your relationships with loved ones, peers, work colleagues and friends, this could be a sign that you need to take steps.

  • You've noticed physical changes

Any visible physical signs such as sore hands (OCD) weight loss (anorexia) weight gain (over-eating), and visible agitation (looking wired) could mean that your anxiety is beginning to affect you more intensely.

  • You're suffering with insomnia

Not being able to sleep is a sign you're struggling mentally, and talking to someone can help you through this.

  • You're preoccupied

Not being able to keep up with everyday tasks, as your head is full of noise and chaos which does not allow you to think clearly. Sound familiar? This is a sign you might need to talk through your worries.

  • You look tired

Not just regular bags; people with depression's eyes eyes can often look sunken and sallow, almost a haunted look.

How to find a therapist

If any of the above apply to you, or you've been thinking about going to a therapist for some time now, it's important to make sure you find the right one for you.

"Take time to research and look for a therapist or counsellor that specialises and has experience in the specific issues that you are experiencing," explains Lynn. "They would have seen and worked with the problems that you are facing again and again, which will have enabled them to have more of an insight, knowledge and understanding of them."

It can be extremely overwhelming to know where to begin, but narrowing it down to what works for you is important.

"There are many different disciplines of therapy now, both mainstream and alternative. It is important to ask the therapists how they work and what would apply specifically to you," says Lynn.

"If the therapist has not been recommended, then look at their website for reviews. Check to see if they are DBS checked."

Photo credit: lorenzoantonucci - Getty Images
Photo credit: lorenzoantonucci - Getty Images

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has an excellent tool on their website which allows you to input your postcode and problem, giving you a list of nearby therapists.

Once you've found one and attend your first session, "there should be a mutual respect between you and the therapist," says Lynn. "If you feel uncomfortable in anyway then look for someone that is a better 'fit' with you and your needs.

"And remember: therapy/counselling should be a safe space for you to explore yourself and feelings, if you start to feel overwhelmed by the process or even dread going it is paramount you talk to your therapist about it."

Signs your therapy is working

It's important to check in regularly once you start therapy. Remember that it can take a while to come through the tunnel, and your first few sessions may leave you wondering if you've done the right thing. However, after a few months you can check in to see whether the following apply - in which case, your therapy is working.

  1. Your life changing for the better, and you're feeling stronger emotionally.

  2. You feel like you are learning more about yourself and accepting and liking what that is.

  3. Your self-esteem and confidence has improved, leaving you feeling more empowered.

  4. You're meeting your personal goals.

  5. The counselling/therapy is challenging you outside your comfort zone.

  6. Your personal and professional relationships are improving.

For more information on therapy, how it works and where to find a therapist for the first time, visit the BACP website. You can also visit your NHS doctor to talk about mental health concerns.

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