NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Are You Thinking About Going to Therapy? How Do You Know When the Time is Right?

Knowing when it's time to begin psychotherapy isn't always easy for people, especially if they have misconceptions about therapy and who attends therapy (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

Are You Thinking About Going to Therapy? How Do You Know When the Time is Right?

People Are Better Informed About Psychotherapy These Days, So There is Less of a Stigma to Attending Therapy
Fortunately, there is less of a stigma attached to attending psychotherapy now than there used to be even 10 or 15 years ago because, generally, people are better informed about therapy.  But there are still people who assume that only "crazy people" need to attend therapy or that people who attend therapy are "weak."  These are big misconceptions about therapy and who should attend psychotherapy (see my article: Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Going to Therapy Means You're Weak).

In reality, psychotherapy is a common form of treatment that is used by people who are quite sane, but who need help to overcome certain obstacles in their lives that they've been unable to overcome on their own.

Keys to Knowing When to Seek Help From a Licensed Psychotherapist:
  • You've Tried to Work Out Your Problems On Your Own, But Your Problems Remain Unresolved:  One of the keys to knowing when to seek help from a licensed psychotherapist is when you've tried to work out your problems on your own, but nothing that you've done so far has worked.  Self care is very important--eating nutritious food, getting enough rest, and engaging in exercise that's right for you.  But there are certain problems that don't go away with just self care, and you need the expertise of a licensed mental health professional to help you overcome your problems.
  • You've Talked to Loved Ones About Your Problems, But Nothing Has Changed:  Another key to knowing when to attend therapy is after you've talked to friends and loved ones about your problems, but nothing has changed. While it's very important to have a strong emotional support system, there are times when your loved ones cannot help you to overcome your emotional problems because they don't have objectivity or the psychological expertise to help you.  That's when you can benefit from seeing a licensed psychotherapist.
  • You've Read Self Help Books, But You Still Have Problems:  Self help books can be helpful to a certain extent.  They often provide you with simple tips for getting through the day and managing your problems, which is important.  But the problem is that self help books are written in a general way, and there's no way that the author can know your particular problem.  While you might get good advice, if you're still in emotional pain, you need to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional.
  • You've Spoken to Your Medical Doctor, But Your Emotional Problems Persist: Many people start by talking to their medical doctors about their emotional problems.  This is often a good idea if there's some question as to whether your problems are related to a medical problem.  For instance, if you're having headaches, you can't just assume that it's stress.  It could be related to a medical issue.  Once your doctor has ruled out that your problems aren't of a medical nature and, in fact, the problems are of a psychological nature, it's important to get help from an experienced therapist who has expertise in your particular problem.
  • You've Tried Medication, But You're Still in Emotional Pain: The pharmaceutical companies have been doing a lot of advertising on TV, the Internet, and magazines.  The impression that many people are left with is that you just pop a pill and you'll be cured.  This appeals to anyone who wants a "magic bullet" to cure their problems.  But usually, it's more complicated than that.  There are times when psychotropic medication has been shown to be no more effective than a placebo.  There are also many people who don't like the side effects of medication.  This doesn't mean that people should stop taking their medication.  What it does mean is that it's often not the answer to solving people's emotional pain.  And, even when psychotropic medication is effective, research has shown that the combination of psychotherapy and medication tends to be the most effective in working through psychological problems.

Getting Help in Therapy

I usually recommend that clients come in for a consultation before we begin to work together.  This gives both of us a chance to meet and see if we are a good match.  You might not be able to tell from one session, but I usually encourage people to trust their instincts when they're choosing a therapist, and also to choose a therapist who has expertise in the particular area where you're having a problem.

When you call to make an appointment for a consultation, you can ask about a therapist's expertise and experience.

I've also included a link for an article (below) about common misconceptions about psychotherapy.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, you can call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.