Now when you think of therapy, is your first thought of laying down on a comfy couch with an older white man asking you about your relationship with your mother? I'm here to tell you, there are definitely other ways to find healing that you may find sit better with your spirit.
Understanding that there is a lot of stigma around seeking help from a mental health professional, especially in Black and Brown communities, makes clinicians like me very sensitive to creating a space that helps folx understand the benefits of therapy, and how they get what they need to feel like the best version of themselves is within reach.
While there may be a number of reasons one might chose to avoid therapy or put off speaking to someone, I figured I'd highlight a few reasons you might want to reconsider, and give it an honest try:
1. You feel like you need your own space to talk to someone.
This one is first, and its super important! If you would like to talk to someone, that's all the reason you need. Just like physical wellness, we all have a level of emotional wellness that we desire to maintain. If you feel that talking to someone might be able to help, then you're about halfway there. Many of us serve as the rock for our family and friends, and could really use a space that's all our own.
2. There has been or will be a BIG change in your life.
Changes, big and little, are the only thing constant in life. Moving into a new house, celebrating a new baby, finishing school, an opportunity for a promotion, or even the loss of someone or something you held dear, among so many other life activities. Exciting or scary, joyful or sorrowful, good or bad, change can sometimes be a stressor. Talking with a therapist before, during, after, or even to bring about change can be helpful in organizing all the thought, feelings, and actions that could be needed at each point in the process, and support you through it.
3. There's been a recent or long-term strain on relationships in your life.
Not feeling up to talking to your BFF, or silencing those calls from your grandmother more often than you used to? While not every relationship with everyone is perfect all the time, even a slight strain on your relationships can be a stressor of major proportions. It could be helpful to talk through those strains with someone who can be objective, and help to navigate how to make small changes to improve those chats and reverse the strain.
4. There's been a change in your sleep patterns.
Did you know that having less than optimal sleep can impact more than just how much coffee you'll need in the AM? Sleep is so very important to our functioning. With even a slight change in your sleep, you might notice changes in your mood, appetite, interests, ability to concentrate and even your sex drive! Talking to a therapist can help you take inventory of your sleep, and look for things to help identify the possible cause of the changes in sleep that could be related to your mental and/or physical health.
5. You're feeling isolated or alone, and/or are withdrawing from things that used to bring you joy.
A bit of time by yourself can be just what the doctor ordered, and sometimes it can be the very thing that is making us feel worse. We were created to be connected to others - to draw encouragement, stability, and comfort. When you notice that it has become harder to engage in the people, places, and things you love and enjoy, it could be a good time to connect with a therapist to help in figuring out what is behind the isolation and withdrawal.
6. You are having increasing negative thoughts, and want to shift to a more positive perspective.
At times we can feel like we are unable to control the thoughts that roll through our brain. They can happen when we're walking our dog, or working hard on a project, or even relaxing in the shower. What is difficult is when we let these thoughts linger, and given them more focus than they might be worth. Learning how to stop these thoughts, determine how valid they are and replace them is something a therapist can help you with.
7. You are having thoughts about harming yourself or someone else.
While this may read like the most extreme reason, its one of the most important to consider. If you have ever considered or had thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else. it is very important that you meet with a therapist. A therapist can help identify negative thought patterns, set goals for change, help determine supportive presences, and create plans for ongoing safety. If you are currently having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.