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10 Reasons to See a Therapist

Dr. Brett S. Bartruff, DSW, LCSW

Aug 23, 2023

Seeking therapy, unfortunately, can come with its fair share of embarrassment or shame. Pursuing professional counsel for mental health concerns has been stigmatized and labeled as something that “only those with mental disorders need.” The reality is that many people would benefit from therapy, whether or not they have a diagnosed mental illness. Seeing a therapist can be part of a person’s overall mental and emotional well-being.

While effective therapy can be extremely worthwhile for many, it is critically necessary for some, especially those with mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, or other disorders. The brain, after all, is an organ and, like other organs, requires some qualified medical attention. Therapy can help you manage life’s varied challenges and live a more fulfilled life. It can help you understand what you’re feeling, why, and how to cope. Just like visiting your doctor for regular wellness exams, or your dentist for checkups, meeting with a therapist can help keep your mental health in order. Indeed, therapy can be beneficial “just because.”

What Is a Therapist?

People who seek mental health therapy are often experiencing distressing emotions, thoughts or actions. Therapists can evaluate and provide guidance on these types of symptoms to assess the best method of treatment and serve as an outlet for someone who needs a listening ear.

Using evidence-based practices, mental health therapists can offer different types of therapy, usually based on their educational background. This may include one or more of the following:

  • Cognitive therapy

  • Humanistic therapy

  • Psychotherapy

  • Dialectical behavior therapy

  • Holistic therapy


Often, therapists work alongside medical providers who can prescribe medication when necessary. A therapist may recommend that a patient begin a medication regimen to a doctor who can then write the prescription and assist in monitoring for side effects and effectiveness.

What Are the Benefits of Therapy?

Therapy can provide you with the needed tools to manage your emotions. Learning the art of mindfulness-based meditation can even help you take care of your own mental health and well-being. And couples counseling can help people work through relationship troubles and live a happier life together.

In other words, one of the benefits of seeing a therapist is the ability to improve your overall wellness. There is, however, one caveat: therapy may not be the best option for those in crisis. For anyone having suicidal thoughts, it’s best to forego therapy in lieu of immediate crisis support to help curb any suicide ideation. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for those in a crisis. And for those who may not feel comfortable talking to someone, messaging the Crisis Text Line can immediately connect them to trained Crisis Counselors.

The same can be said for couples counseling: therapy can help, but it may not be the best choice for those living in abusive relationships. Those in abusive relationships should strongly consider contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline immediately. Therapy can then help those involved fully recover and live a happy, post-crisis life, free of unhealthy relationships.

Why See a Therapist?

If you’re feeling afraid to see a therapist, rest assured that this is normal. Some people feel uncomfortable talking with a mental health therapist about their personal lives. However, there are plenty of reasons to see a therapist that outweigh the trepidation you may be feeling. One or more of these reasons may help you decide when to see a therapist:

1. You’re Experiencing Intense Feelings of Sadness or Helplessness

It’s normal to feel down every once in a while, but sometimes it’s difficult to get out of a low point in your life. These feelings can actually be a sign of major depression, which is a reason to find a therapist who can help you talk through those feelings and begin healing.

2. You’ve Run Out of Advice From Friends and Family

However well intentioned, advice from friends and family on coping with life’s challenges may not be enough. The assistance of a professionally trained and experienced therapist can be much more helpful. You’ll find tools that your friends and family cannot provide.

3. You’re Using Alcohol, Drugs, Porn or Other Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Managing painful or difficult emotions with alcohol, drugs, porn or other addictive means commonly leads to larger problems.

4. You or a Loved One Are Living With a Chronic Health Condition

The uncertainty of serious illnesses can bring on stress, anxiety and depression. It’s easy to slip into negative thought patterns when you are facing a long-term illness. Therapists can help you see through the troubled waters to a bright horizon so that you can focus on the positives in life.

5. You’re Undergoing a Big Change

From a major career shift to a change in marital status or relocating to a new state, big changes can lead to emotional distress. Talking through these changes is almost always better than trying to power through them on your own. A mental health therapist can provide a listening ear so that you can express your true feelings and emotions regarding big changes.

6. You’ve Recently Lost a Loved One or Close Friend

Grieving is normal and healthy, but if time passes and you’re still feeling a heavy burden from the loss of a family member, trusted friend or pet, therapy can help. Having someone to talk to with experience with the grieving process can ease the pain that you are feeling.

7. You Suspect You Have a Serious Mental Health Condition

Some of the most common mental health disorders are effectively treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Providers are trained in a range of evidence-based therapies that can be utilized to help you on your journey toward better mental health. In nearly every case, leaving a mental illness untreated can lead to worsening symptoms down the road.

8. You Feel Like You’ve Lost Control

Therapy can help calm the waters of rampant substance abuse, rage, anger or other runaway emotions. Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, there are times when your life may feel out of your control. Talking it through with a therapist is a good way to be reminded of what you do have control over in your life.

9. You’re Having Family Issues

Couples and family therapy can help improve communication, work through challenges and resolve conflicts. However, as mentioned earlier, couples therapy is not recommended for those in abusive relationships. Family therapy is great for practically any family unit. There are so many different relationship dynamics at play, and therapists can help each member find understanding and compassion for the others.

10. You Feel Like You Need To Talk to Someone

It’s as simple as it sounds—trust yourself. If you feel like you need help, seek it. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed for taking action to improve your mental health, no matter the reason. You know yourself best, and if you think it’s time to find a therapist, it is time.

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