Should I Go To Therapy
It may take some consideration before you decide youre ready for therapy. You might want to wait and see if time, lifestyle changes, or the support of friends and family improves whatever youre struggling with.
The American Psychological Association suggests considering therapy when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life, particularly when:
- Thinking about or coping with the issue takes up at least an hour each day
- The issue causes embarrassment or makes you want to avoid others
- The issue has caused your quality of life to decrease
- The issue has negatively affected school, work, or relationships
- Youve made changes in your life or developed habits to cope with the issue
If you experience any of the following emotions or feelings to the extent that they interfere with life, therapy may help you reduce their effects. Its especially important to consider getting help if you feel controlled by symptoms or if they could cause harm to yourself or others.
What Are The Different Types Of Therapy
Before delving into the different types of therapy, itâs useful to understand the different types of mental health professionals. Some people may be looking for a therapist with advanced training and a state-approved license, while others may find great counsel in life coaches, clergy, or others. Schooling doesnât always mean the best therapist, but letâs break down some of the more advanced degrees.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication to their patients, in addition to practicing psychotherapy.
Psychologists are similar to psychiatrists, but are unable to prescribe medication. In a scenario where they believe a patient would benefit from medication, psychologists typically have a working relationship with other psychiatrists and doctors to facilitate that conversation. Psychologists usually have a doctoral degree and are trained in understanding how the mind and behavior correspond. You may see some psychologists listed as counseling psychologists and others as clinical psychologists â the primary difference is that a counseling psychologist helps patients to deal with more day-to-day problems, where clinical psychology may focus more on severe mental illness. That said, both are considered licensed psychologists and neither will prescribe medication.
Licensed Professional Counselor or Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
When To Get Help For Anxiety
If you think you have anxiety, there is never a bad time to reach out for help. Below are some signs it might be time to seek professional help for anxiety:
- You have thoughts that feel scary or out of control
- Anxiety is negatively impacting relationships you care about
- You feel like you cant be in public or around other people
- You are having trouble sleeping
- Anxiety makes it hard to do daily tasks like eating, cleaning, going to work, or child care
- You are thinking about hurting yourself
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Types Of Anxiety Disorders
If you experience intense, persistent, and excessive anxiety, you may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder. The most common types of anxiety disorders include:
If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, its essential to seek professional help. Before youre officially diagnosed with clinical anxiety, your psychologist or clinician will administer a diagnostic interview to determine whether you meet the diagnostic criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . DSM-5 diagnostic criteria include feeling excessive anxiety more often than not and experiencing other anxiety symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, and nausea.
Nothing Youve Done Seems To Have Helped
Few people feel anxious for weeks on end and do nothing to try and help calm their anxiety. Few people suffer from the symptoms of depression without having tried to reverse the lethargy, sadness, or hopelessness feelings.
Sometimes our own coping skills fail us. They simply stop working, or become far less effective than they were in the past. If youve tried a half dozen different things already talk to a friend, exercise more, seek out support online, read up on various self-help techniques online and nothing has made much of a difference, that may be a sign its time to talk to a therapist.
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Why Should I Go To Therapy
If youre considering therapy, you may be thinking about the possible drawbacks. Cost might be a concern for you. You might also be aware that therapy is often difficult. Trauma or other painful events from the past can be frightening to remember, much less discuss with someone else. Even if you arent dealing with trauma, working through challenges isnt easy, and therapy isnt a quick fix. Therapy also requires honesty, with yourself and with the therapist you work with.
But if youre willing to do the work, therapy can be rewarding. Its a safe, judgment-free space where you can share anything, with a trained professional who is there to help.
Here are a few benefits of therapy:
Even if you arent sure you want to commit to therapy, many therapists offer a free first session or phone consultation to talk through what youre dealing with. Based on your symptoms, they might encourage you to get help.
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Finding The Right Therapist
The sooner you seek professional help, the sooner youll start feeling better. Even if your anxiety symptoms dont interfere with your ability to function, they can still negatively impact your mental health and quality of life.
Whether youre interested in psychodynamic psychotherapy, internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy , or group counseling, reach out to a mental health professional through The Therapy Group of DC. At The Therapy Group of DC, we know that starting psychological treatment can feel daunting, especially given the stress and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Our real-time intelligent therapy scheduling system will help you find a therapist you feel comfortable with. One of our licensed counseling psychologists or clinical psychologists will help you manage your anxiety, learn healthy ways to cope with anxiety symptoms, and take control of your mental health.
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What If Ive Already Tried Therapy And It Didnt Work
Sometimes therapy doesnt help right away. Even in an ideal therapy situation, it can take time for symptoms to improve. Going to therapy and seeing no change may cause frustration. It may seem like a waste of time and money. Many people stop going to therapy as a result.
Sometimes therapy doesnt help right away. Even in an ideal therapy situation, it can take time for symptoms to improve.
Other factors can impact how effective therapy is. There is no single, correct approach that works for everyone. Not every therapist will work for everyone, either. Having a negative experience with a particular therapist or a certain type of treatment can make it hard to try therapy again, even if you want support.
It can help to look for a therapist who treats what youre experiencing. If you dont have a diagnosis, you can talk to potential therapists about your symptoms. An ethical therapist will let you know if theyre able to treat your concern. If they cant, they may be able to recommend someone who can.
Keep in mind different approaches may be better for different issues. Being misdiagnosed can affect how treatment works. If you didnt feel heard in therapy before, or if you experience different symptoms, a different therapist might be a better fit for you.
Youve Experienced Panic Or Anxiety Attacks
It sounds really obvious to say that you should see a therapist if youve had a panic or anxiety attack. But listen: many people experience something like this, and they try to ignore it instead of dealing with it, which definitely isnt the answer. Thomas explains, Panic attacks are very scary and people often think they are actually dying when they begin experiencing attacks for the first time. Anxiety attacks can feel like an out-of-body experience and many people end up in the emergency room because the experience feels so out of control. Having panic attacks should serve as a motivator to find a therapist right away. Life has become so overwhelming, the body doesnt know what to do with the excess stress.
If you go through an attack like this, dont feel embarrassed or blow it off like its nothingseek help. Youll thank yourself later.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Youve probably thought of a million questions you want to ask your doctor. But when youre in the office, theyre easy to forget. Writing them down will help both you and your doctor, and save time. Its a good idea to put the most important questions at the top of the list in case there isnt time for all of them. Here are some questions you may want to ask. Add any others you think are important for your doctor to know.
- Do I have an anxiety disorder?
- Is there something else that might be causing my symptoms?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- Should I see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?
- Is there a medication that I can take? Does it have side effects? What can I do to prevent or relieve the side effects?
- Is there a generic medication I can take? How long will I need to take it?
- When will I feel better?
- What else can I do to relieve my symptoms?
The list of questions you make will help you be prepared to answer your doctors questions. Here are some questions your doctor will probably ask you:
You Have Medical Symptoms That Tests Dont Explain
One sign you may need professional therapy? You have certain symptoms that medical doctors cant seem to diagnose. According to licensed mental health clinician Celeste Viciere,
“People have come to see me after seeing their doctor and having some physical symptoms where all the tests have come back negative. After tests come back negative, the doctor will ask their patient, ‘Have you thought about seeing a therapist?’ People do not realize how much our mental and physical health are related, and they may unfortunately miss the cues.”
This is often especially true with symptoms like intestinal pain or stomach painour gut is more connected to our brains than we realize, and excess stress, anxiety, and depression can leave us feeling sick to our stomachs .
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What Is A Psychologist
A psychologist specializes in the study of behaviors and mental processes. This includes emotional and cognitive processes, how people interact with their environments, and how they interact with other people.
Psychologists help people learn to understand and handle different life problems and mental health issues.
A psychologist diagnoses and treats mental disorders, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. They may provide treatment for chronic problems or acute problems, and they can do so in an individual, family, or group setting. The most common type of treatment used by psychologists is psychotherapy, or talk therapy.
Psychologists help patients handle stressful events, beat addictions, or manage illnesses. People may seek counseling or treatments from psychologists for things such as traumatic experiences, a death in the family, or long-term anxiety.
One of the most notable difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that psychologists are not medical doctors. They do not have a medical degree and are not trained in general medicine or in prescribing medications.
Practicing psychologists must earn an undergraduate major, a masters, and a doctorate in psychology. Additionally, most states require a two-year internship. Practicing psychologists may earn a PhD or PsyD.
What To Expect From Therapy
A common misunderstanding about therapy is that you’ll immediately start to feel better. Sometimes this is the case. But much of the time, you feel worse before you start feeling better. Surprisingly, feeling worse is often a sign of progress. And if you think about it, that makes sense.
When you make the decision to enter into therapy, it’s often because you haven’t been able to work through your anxiety on your own. Therapy involves exploring your anxiety and the reasons behind it in a deeper, more meaningful way. This can cause a temporary spike in your anxiety.
Therapy should never be thought of as a quick fix. It’s a process that’s unique to each individual. The type of therapy you need, the skills, that you learn, and how long you’re in therapy depends entirely on the type of anxiety you have and the severity of your symptoms.
It’s important to understand that though the process won’t always feel good, it will be completely worthwhile in the end.
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Acceptance And Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy is also an effective treatment for anxiety and related disorders. During ACT, youll learn different ways to identify your life values and act according to those values.
Researchers found that internet-based ACT treatment works for a variety of anxiety disorders. In an additional study, a combination of commitment therapy and cognitive therapy was shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression patients in clinical practice.
Exposure Therapy For Anxiety
Anxiety isnt a pleasant sensation, so its only natural to avoid it if you can. One of the ways that people do this is by steering clear of the situations that make them anxious. If you have a fear of heights, you might drive three hours out of your way to avoid crossing a tall bridge. Or if the prospect of public speaking leaves your stomach in knots, you might skip your best friends wedding in order to avoid giving a toast. Aside from the inconvenience factor, the problem with avoiding your fears is that you never have the chance to overcome them. In fact, avoiding your fears often makes them stronger.
Exposure therapy, as the name suggests, exposes you to the situations or objects you fear. The idea is that through repeated exposures, youll feel an increasing sense of control over the situation and your anxiety will diminish. The exposure is done in one of two ways: Your therapist may ask you to imagine the scary situation, or you may confront it in real life. Exposure therapy may be used alone, or it may be conducted as part of cognitive behavioral therapy.
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