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People start going to therapy for various reasons. Sometimes, they reflect what you’ve likely seen in movies or TV shows. When a character undergoes a traumatic event, they visit a therapist’s office. In real life, deciding when to go to therapy doesn’t always look the same.
There are many signs you might benefit from therapy, depending on your history and current lifestyle. Read a few of the red flags and learn how to find the right therapist for your needs. You’ll quickly learn how to help yourself heal in ways you might not have considered before.
Signs You Might Need a Therapist
You don’t need to feel like you’ve survived a horror movie to sign up for therapy. These are a few common symptoms people experience when they need the kind of healing therapists provide.
1. Social Situations Scare You
Toxic relationships can make social situations scary. Feeling safe in a friendship or romantic relationship is challenging when you’ve dealt with emotionally immature people who use your connection to hurt you. You might be one of the 7% of American adults with social anxiety if you’re nervous about forming new friendships or chatting with the people in your life.
2. You Don’t Have Energy Anymore
A lifetime of burying your emotions for other people or overlooking troubling events in your past could have caused you to develop depression. Even if you’re not always sad, you could have functioning depression if you feel exhausted even after a good night’s rest.
3. You Feel Distanced From Your Family
Feeling an invisible distance separating you from your parents or siblings is uncomfortable. If you can’t name what keeps you apart, it could be a complicated emotional history. You don’t have to settle for distance forever when therapists are ready to help.
4. You Don’t Know Who You Are
Everyone grows during their lifetimes. If you’re not sure who you are anymore, that could be a sign it’s time to go to therapy. You might need help doing a deep dive into your identity because it involves tough subjects.
5. You’re Developing Unhealthy Habits
Sometimes, people lose the balance between healthy habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms. If things like smoking, drinking, gambling or other habits consume your thoughts, therapy could help. It’s especially important to talk to a therapist if those habits are the only way you can relax or sleep.
How to Find a Therapist
If you recognize any of these signs, it might be time to go to therapy. Use these steps to start your search.
1. Check Your Insurance Company’s Directory
Although you can keep doing things like using crystals to foster positive energy in your life, you’ll get more direct help from a therapist. Check your health insurance company’s directory through your member portal. They’ll list any therapists within your network so you can receive a significant discount for each session.
2. Search a Local Database
Start a quick Google search for local therapists. You’ll see multiple databases with lists of all therapists in your city or the surrounding area. Use the filters to narrow the options based on things like their location and price.
3. Find Helpful Organizations
Non-profit organizations help people find affordable therapists every day. If you don’t have health insurance or your insurance doesn’t bring the price down enough for your budget, look up non-profits with discounted therapy services. They’ll work with the same local therapists in your health insurance company’s directory and have sliding-scale pricing to make it more affordable.
What to Look For in a Therapist
Look for these features to find a therapist best suited to your needs. They all bring different specialties and experiences to their clients’ appointments. These factors are how you can pinpoint what you need from your future therapist.
1. An Active License
Therapists need a college degree and a license to practice. Counselors don’t need a license. Look for a therapist with both an education and a state-approved license to meet with an expert trained in the complex field of psychology.
2. Positive Patient Reviews
You can find reviews for potential therapists on your preferred search database or their personal business websites. Reading what other people experienced with them will make your choice of a therapist more straightforward.
3. An Empathetic, Listening Ear
Sometimes, therapists mean well, but they talk about their personal experiences in sessions. If your therapist does this every time you meet, they may not fully invest in your healing. You deserve a therapist who listens, empathizes with you and guides you to potential connections that make recovery possible.
Signs You Need a Different Therapist
Bad therapists often exhibit these warning signs. Keep an eye out for them as you meet for each session. If anything feels off, you can always end your time with a therapist and find a better replacement.
1. You Don’t Feel Like They’re Listening
Your therapist shouldn’t interrupt you. They also shouldn’t hear what you say and make the conversation about themselves. Active listening is the most critical factor in a good therapist besides an active license.
2. You Don’t Feel Like They’re Empathizing
You’ll likely talk about heavy topics in your therapy sessions. It’s an act of vulnerability that your therapist should return with empathy. If they don’t feel for how challenging your experiences have been or how you’re still suffering, they aren’t creating a space for you to express how you feel safely.
3. You Feel Pushed Into Your Therapist’s Beliefs
People often think therapists tell their clients what to do, but that’s not true. Your therapist should suggest ideas or connections and ask how true they feel for you. If you feel pressured to agree with your therapist’s ideas or beliefs even when they don’t feel accurate to your life, you won’t have the reflective freedom that leads to healing.
Understand When to Go to Therapy
Now that you know when to go to therapy, consider signing up for your first session. No matter what you’ve been through, a therapist can help heal the emotional wounds that affect your daily life. Keep an eye out for red flags as you attend your first few sessions to determine if you need to look elsewhere or if you’ve found the best therapist for your needs.
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