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What Can Therapy Help Us With?

We don't need a psychiatric diagnosis to benefit from therapy.

Key points

  • Therapy can help when we experience overwhelming emotions or destructive behaviours that are influencing our ability to engage in daily life.
  • Therapists see people with range of issues, but some common reasons for seeing a therapist include unhelpful repeating patterns, depression, anxiety, addiction and grief.
  • Therapists can also help with relationship problems, sexual and intimacy issues and family conflicts.
  • Recognizing the need for help is the first step in seeking therapy.

Everyone can feel down or anxious, even panicky or scared — these are all normal emotions. Situations can be testing or challenging and leave us feeling lost or in need of recovery. This is normal too. Most of the time we have coping strategies that will help us through and situations will pass so we can carry on with life as we know it.

However, there are times when experiences interfere with daily life and cause us to experience mental health problems or emotional overwhelm. Anything from a misplaced comment or action, to experiencing constant mistreatment now or in the past, can affect our mental health, making us feel powerless or unable to cope.

Signs That Therapy Is Needed

Therapy is there for us if we experience overwhelming emotions or destructive behaviours that are influencing our ability to engage with life in a productive and fulfilling manner. Symptoms might include:

  • eruptions of anger
  • depression
  • being constantly worried
  • sleeplessness
  • self-imposed isolation
  • lack of interest in life
  • life seemingly working against us
 Darius Bashar/Unsplash
Source: Darius Bashar/Unsplash

These are just some of the signs that therapy can help us, there are plenty more.

Specific Issues

In therapy, no issue is too small nor too big to seek help with. Therapists see people with a range of issues, though there are some that are more common than others. It doesn’t have to be a psychiatric diagnosis that takes us to therapy. In fact, it is often issues that are simply getting in the way of us feeling contented with our life, such as:

Repeating patterns: Unhelpful repeating patterns can interfere with our life, stopping us from feeling fulfilled. A therapist can help us to understand where the patterns come from and what is driving us to repeat them. In therapy, we can learn to change these patterns or stop them.

Depression: The signs of depression — feeling a lack of interest in life, intense sadness or despondency — are one of the main reasons people seek therapy. Sliding into depressive thoughts can be debilitating yet trying to pull ourselves out of this place can be incredibly difficult. Don’t wait in the hope it is a passing phase: These emotions have a habit of returning if we don’t find a way of spotting the signs and develop skills to manage them.

Anxiety: Feeling worried is one of life’s many emotional experiences. If anxiety is crippling and affecting our whole existence, it is time to seek help. Trying to cope without help may lead to long-term suffering and can manifest in physical symptoms. Therapy is the perfect place for working through our anxiety. Here we will learn different coping skills that will help us find a calmer life.

Addiction: Alcohol, drugs, online porn and gambling are some of the addictions that can hold us in their grip. Addictions are usually a shortcut to some kind of feel-good experience that will eventually harm us or some aspect of our life. Therapy is a great way of working with any addiction, though it is strongly advised to find a therapist specializing in the specific addiction we are struggling with.

Grief: This is the intense feeling of loss. Grief isn’t limited to the loss we feel when someone close to us dies. The loss of a job, a pet, a friendship, a home, a relationship – any loss can bring on the emotions involved with the grieving process.

Grief helps us come to terms with our loss. As we move through a myriad of emotions, we can begin to get used to our new normal. The loss might still be there, but the emotions will no longer overwhelm us. However, if we feel stuck in grief, we will benefit from talking with a therapist.

Eating issues: One of the more complex issues that therapy can help with is our relationship with food and eating. The expectations and influences of modern culture, life events, our environment and genetics can all conspire to us having a tricky relationship with eating and food.

If these issues are controlling our life in any way, we can benefit from working with a specially trained therapist.

Relationship issues: Intimate relationships can be easy-going when we first meet but can become more difficult as our relationship grows and we become emotionally entangled. In relationship or couples therapy, we can seek help with all relationship issues. Here we can improve and deepen our connection, getting to know one another in a way we never imagined.

On the other hand, we might be on our own, longing for the opportunity to connect with another human being. Individual or relationship therapy can help us to understand our role in relationships. We need to be sure to choose the therapist best qualified for our needs.

Sexual issues: Sex and physical intimacy are topics we find intriguing but difficult to talk about, especially when intimacy isn’t working the way we would like. Bringing intimacy or sexual issues to therapy can make us feel very vulnerable, and revealing something so personal, can put us off seeking help.

Psychosexual therapists are specially trained and know how hard it is to open up about intimacy and sex. They are used to creating a space that feels safe enough for us to be able to talk in-depth about our intimate experiences and issues. As with any other talking therapy, we are expected just to talk about our experiences and issues, nothing else.

Family issues: These can be long-standing with no resolution in sight. If we are unable to talk with one another about certain topics, it is likely they will become the proverbial elephant in the room. It doesn’t have to be the whole family who attends family therapy for it to be effective. If one or two of the people affected most by the issue attends therapy together, the changes can reverberate into the rest of the family.

If we know what therapy is for, we will know where to go for the help we need

Whether we need specialist therapy or not depends on what we are seeking help with. Recognising the need for help is the first step to taking the leap into therapy.

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.