When is the Right Time to Go into Therapy?


When you’re in crisis, the answer is obvious—it’s time to get help.  But at other times, the decision is not so simple. “Sure, I know I could probably benefit from it, but I don’t know if I need psychotherapy. There are lots of people who have it much worse off than me, right?”


This kind of indecisiveness and discounting of feelings is one reason to call a psychotherapist.  When you begin to get lost in obsessive or unproductive thoughts, and when you begin to feel that time is slipping away, you may experience a quiet, almost unnoticed sense of loss.  Over time, what was at first a few melancholy Mondays can turn into much more.  This gradual erosion of your hope and outlook on life lowers your self-esteem and decreases your motivation.  You may tell yourself, “Well, things aren’t that bad,” denying the opportunity to explore these issues with a psychotherapist.  You may feel you don't deserve to invest in yourself or maybe you should be able to solve your problems on your own.


Depression and anxiety can be quite subtle.  We don’t always understand how we dismiss our own pain or disappointments.  With the help of a competent psychotherapist, you’ll be able to recognize thoughts, emotions and behaviors that are  holding you back.  Psychotherapy helps you become more compassionate for yourself and others resulting in deeper connections and more authentic relationships. 

Here are some examples of blind spots that my clients here in Los Angeles often discover about themselves during psychotherapy:


·         Low self-esteem (“I shouldn’t complain.  Lots of people have it worse than I do.”)

·         Insomnia (“I’ve always been a night owl.”)

·         Hypersomnia (“I guess I do nap a lot.  Maybe I’m just lazy.”)

·         Rage  (“Am I the only one who knows how to drive in this town???”)

·         Criticism of others (“I was just joking.  Why are you so over-sensitive?”)

·         Criticism of self (“I’m such an idiot!”)

·         Addictions (“If you had the week I’ve had…”)

·         Isolation (“I’m a homebody, that’s all.”)

·         Excessive worry (“If I worry about it, it won’t happen.”)

·         Hopelessness (“I guess I’m fated to never find my soul mate.”)


If you're not sure whether it's time to begin psychotherapy, you may ask questions of  a psychotherapist without commitment.  Feel free to discuss your  concerns (e.g. how long therapy will take, how much it will cost, how you will know if psychotherapy is working, how the psychotherapist will know what you need).  Then you can make an informed decision about whether the time is right for you to work with a psychotherapist.


When is the right time to go into therapy?  Only you can answer that question. But now is the time to consider how you would like to design this next chapter of your life, and psychotherapy is one way to explore the future while working through the past.



John Chebultz, M.A. (July 2006).