When Is The Right Time For Therapy?
Life has a way of smacking you in the face sometimes.
When this happens, it becomes obvious when we need to make some changes. Other times, you have to dig deep and reflect on the signs- patterns of behaviour, mood shifts, issues at work/school, or just a general sense that something is not right.
Then there are those of us who don’t bother waiting for a crisis or downward trend in their lives to recognize the importance of change.
How can we emulate this?
The ‘Right’ Time For Therapy?
The right time for therapy is whenever you decide to go to therapy. If that answer feels like a cop out, hold on a moment, there’s an explanation!
Meeting Yourself Where You’re At
“You have to meet them where they’re at”.
What’s behind this phrase? Meeting a person where they are at means accepting their reality for what it is, even if you don’t agree with it, or perhaps want something different for them.
We can apply this to ourselves as well. Meeting yourself where YOU are at looks like accepting that you may not be ready for change right away. Or perhaps you feel ready but there are practical obstacles you need to clear or work around before enacting that change (i.e. finances, moving houses, etc).
This is why the ‘right’ time for therapy is whenever you get there. That timing is perfect for you, and only you.
6 Signs That The Time Is Ripe
The right time is whenever you begin.
However, there are situations in life where therapy feels like a more obvious next step. Similarly, we can also find ourselves entrenched in patterns and behaviours signal to us…the right time might be now, or soon.
As therapists, we have the inside scoop on these situations and circumstances, and we would love to share them with you.
1. You Are Going Through A Transitional Time In Life
We could all use a little extra support adapting to big changes.
These major life changes have something in common: starting a new job, moving to a new city, getting into (or out of) a romantic relationship, becoming a parent, experiencing life after recovery, and going through various developmental stages in life (i.e. puberty, menopause).
What’s the common denominator? All of these circumstances come with stress and a wave of often complicated emotions. Transitional phases can bring out sides to us that are challenging. For example, leaving home for the first time can resurface complicated family dynamics. Experiencing life after recovering from an addiction
2. You Want To Improve Your Relationships
Relationships have a significant impact on our quality of life. Our closest relationships also bring sides to us that are not otherwise easily accessible.
In the words of therapist Nedra Tawwab, relationships introduce you to yourself. A therapist can help you root out and manage what is holding you back from having great relationships (i.e. attachment issues, difficultly managing conflict, poor communication).
3. You Are Struggling To Regulate Emotions
If you are having difficulty managing challenging emotions, or your regular coping skills are no longer effective, a therapist can help you discover new coping strategies. A therapist can also improve distress tolerance skills.
Learning to have a different relationship with our emotions is a worthwhile goal in and of itself 🙂
4. You Are Able To Talk About Past Traumas
We are not always ready and able to talk, or even think, about past traumas. If you find that shifting, it may be a good time to consider processing the trauma with a therapist.
A therapist can also help you manage the direct aftermath of a traumatic event or a near-death experience.
5. You Are Feeling Stuck Or At A Crossroads
Life is full of crossroads. It’s common to arrive at one and feel stuck, frustrated, and as if no one has ever experienced the weight of that particular decision before.
Staying in a state of limbo can increase the weight of the decision and discomfort for you and perhaps even others involved in the decision.
Therapy can help you process the underlying factors that make the decision complicated, as well as helping you reach clarity on the outcome.
6. You Want To Challenge Thinking Patterns
Cognitive distortions can do a number on us.
These are patterns of thinking our mind uses to convince us of things that are not necessarily true.
Without further examination or reflection, we are likely to believe them at face value.
Hence, you shouldn’t believe everything you think!
A therapist can help you challenge cognitive distortions as well as harsh, critical self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves matters deeply- our inner voice can very easily translate into self-beliefs.
Let’s also take a moment to challenge this idea of being ‘ready’ for something. There is no such thing as being perfectly ready to make change. Readiness is often discovered along the way- sometimes you just have to start.
So the right time for therapy is whenever you begin- ready or not 🙂
I want to hear from you: How did you know it was the ‘right’ time for therapy?
Until next time!
Sarah Ahmed is the co-founder and a psychotherapist at WellNest Psychotherapy Services. Sarah strongly favors an integrative, trauma-informed, client-centered approach to create a healthy alliance with clients and their loved ones.