How Do You Know If You Need A Therapist?
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How Do You Know If You Need A Therapist?

Table of Contents

Where Do You Turn?
How Can a Therapist Help?
What Others Kinds of Help Are Available to You?
Why Seek Help From a Therapist?
Who Are The Different Kinds of Therapists?
How Can You Find a Therapist?
What Should You Do Now?

Where Do You Turn If You're Thinking:
"Things in my life are getting out of control, and I feel helpless."
"There is no one I can talk to about my worries and problems."

"I feel like I'm in a rut."

"I can't get my child to behave."
"I am afraid of the panic I sometimes feel."
"I am unhappy and I don't know why."
"I keep having the same kinds of unhappy relationships."
"My marriage is falling apart."
"I can't stop thinking about killing myself."
"I wonder if my child might be sexually abused."
"I was raped, and now I'm upset all the time."
How Can A Therapist Help?

Sometimes we may feel very alone with our feelings. We may believe we will have the same feelings forever. We may be afraid if we start crying we won't be able to stop. Or if we get really angry, we will lose control and kill someone. If we let our feelings out, we may feel we, or someone else, will be destroyed.

Therapists help people learn to express their feelings safely.

"I was afraid to try anything new. I felt a strong urge to like myself better and accomplish something in life. After talking with my therapist, I am aware of my possibilities to grow and achieve in life."

You can feel differently about yourself and your life. A therapist can help you overcome your fears. You can discover you are not weird after all!

"I felt completely out of control. Keeping the house clean and the kids amused was overwhelming. I was lashing out physically and in words at those I loved, and I was shrinking inside.

Now, with the help of my therapist, I'm becoming more calm, and understanding what sets me off. I'm seeing what needs to be changed, and doing that slowly."

"Knowing it's OK to have faults helps a lot. Therapy is teaching me to stop pushing pain away, to face it and get past it after I've felt it."

With the help of a therapist, you may discover a new view of yourself and others. You may discover you have more choices than you ever dreamed!

"I was very busy with a stressful job. I felt angry a lot of the time, and weighed 267 pounds. I was disorganized and tired, and slept most of the time. Nothing was going right.

Getting into therapy has enabled me to be more organized. I can deal with day-to-day crises better, and I can see when I'm getting off track in time to do it differently."

Perhaps you feel there is something missing in you. Professional therapists help people face the difficulties in life with resources they didn't know they had. Therapists know that sometimes even competent, creative people need help.

You can learn, in therapy, how to give to yourself, and receive from others, what you need. You can learn to trust. You can learn how loveable you really are.

"I was confused. I didn't know how to handle my feelings of anger and sadness. I did things that didn't help.

"I started seeing a psychologist when I got so depressed after separating from my husband. Now I can still have moments of despair and confusion, but I have slowly learned to trust my strong feelings, and even to communicate them. I trust that I can take care of myself and enjoy and respect who I am. I can take risks and not beat myself up if I don't succeed. I'm pretty happily married now, and able to be a good parent."

Maybe you are facing a crisis. Maybe you just feel like you need to change something in your life. Therapists are people who can understand and support you.

What Other Kinds Of Help Are Available?
Here are some things that other people have done:
Self-Improvement Reading

If you like to read, there are many self-improvement books, and articles in magazines.

Self-Development Lectures or Talks or Workshops

Some peoples' lives have been transformed by listening to talk or lectures.

Religious Help

Perhaps you have a minister, priest, or rabbi you can talk with.

Family Members

Many people have been helped by talking with close friends or family members.

Company Programs

Maybe there is a program available through your place of work which offers someone trained in counseling.

Support Groups

Maybe you can find a "support group" of people who are dealing with problems similar to yours, and who meet to help each other. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous, Parents Without Partners, National Academy for Child Development, Narcotics Anonymous, and others. Some of these groups have professional leaders and some do not.

Reduce Stress

Many people have lessened their fears, crises, and problems by taking a vacation, learning yoga, exercising, getting professional therapeutic massages, or even just concentrating on doing better at work.

Why Seek Help From A Therapist?

Maybe you have already tried some other kinds of help and they didn't work. Perhaps they don't appeal to you. What is the advantage of seeking help from a therapist?

Therapists are professionally trained in listening, communicating, and assisting people in getting what they want and need. Family members are not, and, even though they love you, they may know only a few options to solve your problem. Trained therapists provide many more options.

In therapy, the professional you talk with can help you know your truth. The therapist will listen and help you stick to the subject.

The therapist will keep all your secrets. The therapist does not talk to your friends or family - unless you request it.

The therapist will not lecture you, will not say, "I told you so," and will not get angry or overwhelmed by what you say or express. The therapist maintains a safe place for you to express all your feelings.

Yet, the therapist does not take care of you. Instead you learn to take care of, and care about, yourself.

Therapists are objective. The therapist genuinely cares about you, but is not emotionally involved. That sense of distance helps you get a new perspective on yourself.

Therapy goes beyond any other kind of help because it challenges you to:

  • face, and learn about, yourself
  • learn what you want and need
  • learn what is preventing you from being happier
  • go beyond the point where you feel "stuck"

Who Are The Different Kinds of Therapists?

What do all those different titles you've heard really mean? There are many kinds of mental health therapists who have professional training.

Psychologists are doctors with approximately 9 years of college education who have specialized in psychology and have additional training in working with individuals and groups.

Psychiatrists are doctors with approximately 8 years of college who have specialized in medicine, can prescribe drugs, and have additional training in psychology.

Both psychologists and psychiatrists are licensed by state examining boards. Doctors who have not passed the state-level exams in psychology cannot legally call themselves psychologists.

Social workers with a Master's Degree (M.S.W.) have about 6 years of college education, including courses in counseling.

Religious counselors, hpynotherapists, and other counselors usually have some training in counseling. You need to ask about their training.

What do good therapists all have in common? Usually the most helpful therapists combine professional training and experience with a talent for helping people.

Differences exist not only in training, experience, and expertise, but also in personality and techniques. You will need to find a therapist who has expertise in working with your particular kind of problem and with whom you feel comfortable.

How Can You Find A Therapist?

The first step is deciding that you want to seek help from a therapist. Just knowing that help is available can be a big relief.

The second step is to locate a therapist. You can:

  1. Look in the yellow Pages under
    "Marriage, Family, Child, and Individual Counselors," or
    "Psychiatrists," or "Psychologists," or
    "Social Workers,"
  2. Ask around among your friends.
  3. Call referral services for professional associations such as:
    Washington State Psychological Association, Seattle (206) 547-4220
    Washington State Psychiatric Association, Seattle (360) 357-4648


  4. Call agencies, which deal with problems like yours. For example if you have been sexually victimized, call:
    King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Crisis Line (800) 825-7273
    Harborview Sexual Assault Center, Seattle (206) 223-3047

  5. Call other referral agencies. For example:
    Crisis Clinic, Seattle (206) 461-3222
    Community Information Line (206) 467-3200

  6. Ask your physician or religious leader.

You can call a therapist and ask about training, experience, and expertise. Then you can decide whether to continue with that therapist, or look around some more.

What Should You Do Now?

Therapists believe that people can be helped, no matter what problems they confront, not matter how hopeless they feel.

By investigating, calling, and asking questions, you can find a therapist who meets your particular needs. Taking the first step to find that person may make you feel better because you will be starting to take control of your life and asserting that you are worth health and happiness.



Psychology Northwest P.S., providing Psychologist / Psychological services and Psychotherapy for adults, couples and individuals, including Couple's Therapy and Marriage Counseling as well as individual Psychological Therapy.

Serving: North Seattle including Broadmoor, Hawthorne Hills, Lake City, Laurelhurst, Maddison Park, Maple Leaf, Northgate, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Sandpoint, University District, University Village, Wedgwood and more.

Gayle Gulick Nelson, Ph.D.  | (206) 654-9572  |

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