Although you might enjoy therapy – who wouldn’t like having someone’s undivided attention and a space to talk about whatever they wanted without the need for filtering or reciprocation – do you need therapy? Deciding the answer to that question is an inside job, but if you were asking me if I thought you needed therapy, I would want to know a couple of things about you: the nature of the issues you have experienced or are experiencing, and the quality of support you currently have available in your life.
Ultimately, that’s one of the things a therapeutic relationship offers, high quality support to stand with you as you process the issues in your past or present, someone who can help you gain a different perspective, a new direction, or just some peace and resolution.
If you’re trying to determine whether therapy might be right for you, writer and psychotherapist Martha Beck has devised a list of questions to ask yourself. While the list is not exhaustive, I think it is a good starting point:
- Is there anyone who knows and cares about all or almost all the significant events of your life?
- Do you feel as though you’re living life behind an invisible screen, unable to truly connect with anyone or anything?
- Is there at least one person you talk to at least once a week who really understands all or almost all your feelings?
- Is there anything you feel you can’t or mustn’t tell anyone?
- Do you feel comfortable crying in front of the person or people you love most?
- Have you recently suffered any kind of serious emotional wound, such as the loss of a job or a loved one?
- Have you benefited from therapy in the past and recently felt wistful about it, missing that kind of reliable support?
- Do you have unexpected negative emotional reactions to others’ behavior toward you, such as feeling shame when you are praised or anxiety when you are loved?
- Are you able to freely express love to your family and friends?
- Does your fear of others’ disapproval dominate your choices?
- Are you lonely even if—or especially when—you’re with a group of people?
- Do you have to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order to be open about your thoughts and emotions?