If sadness, grief, fear, and conflict are common human experiences, when is it time to see a psychotherapist?
Consider these four broad sets of circumstances:
(1) Fear or powerful emotions that follow traumatic events and relentless worry or intrusive thoughts are creating distress and disrupting otherwise pleasurable activities and experiences.
Why go: Constant emotional anguish can contribute to headaches, weight loss, digestive problems, and strain on valued relationships. This can compound the primary issue(s) of concern, thereby causing more harm.
(2) Those who care about you start expressing concern about your health and suggest counseling.
Why go: Others often see changes in our behavior and demeanor before we recognize them ourselves. However, these individuals may not verbalize concerns immediately and might wait until more acute or repeated symptoms occur.
(3) Conflicts with those you love are too frequent and outnumber the positive experiences you once enjoyed.
Why go: Frequent conflict builds resentment, which can contribute to a belief that differences are not reconcilable. Conflicts may become more difficult to resolve or resist resolution.
(4) You’re using alcohol or drugs to cope with stress. This one is a bit tricky because the starting point is not psychotherapy but an assessment by an addiction medical expert or other professional to rule out addictive disease.
Why go: Life problems are difficult to resolve when worsened by substance use, which might indicate a primary disease process, not secondary to distressing problems.