Do You Need Help?

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:

  1. Is there anyone who knows and cares about all or almost all the significant events of your life?
  2. Do you feel as though you’re living life behind an invisible screen, unable to truly connect with anyone or anything?
  3. Is there at least one person you talk to at least once a week who really understands all or almost all your feelings?
  4. Is there anything you feel you can’t or mustn’t tell anyone?
  5. Do you feel comfortable crying in front of the person or people you love most?
  6. Have you recently suffered any kind of serious emotional wound, such as the loss of a job or a loved one?
  7. Have you benefited from therapy in the past and recently felt wistful about it, missing that kind of reliable support?
  8. 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?
  9. Are you able to freely express love to your family and friends?
  10. Does your fear of others’ disapproval dominate your choices?
  11. Are you lonely even if—or especially when—you’re with a group of people?
  12. Do you have to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order to be open about your thoughts and emotions?

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