With the number of people seeking therapy growing in popularity in recent years, you may have wondered to yourself, “do I need therapy?” and “what type of therapy do I need?” You may wonder whether you need a diagnosis of a mental health disorder or more serious symptoms to warrant therapy.
Asking whether therapy is appropriate for you is a highly personalized question. Ultimately, the best decision can be made after an intake assessment or level of care assessment by a mental health professional. These assessments explore your personal and family health history, your presenting concerns, symptoms you’ve experienced, environmental factors and more.
While an assessment can provide the assurance you need that therapy is right for you, there are some common signs to look for to know that you can benefit from professional counseling or therapy.
Signs that you may need therapy
Each person will present with unique concerns and symptoms so it’s difficult to present a list of side effects that warrant intervention. However, these commonalities are often grounds for starting mental health services.
1. An extended period of time
Your presenting concern could be anxiety, feelings of depression, inability to concentrate, feeling on edge, and the like. While it’s normal to feel anxious for short bursts of time, such as before an important work presentation or leading up to a race, when discomfort is prolonged, it’s a sure sign that there is a deeper root to the concern.
When any heightened sensation of distress is prolonged for more than two weeks, it’s a problem that should be addressed. Whether your feelings stem from a medical health issue or a mental health concern, when you experience symptoms for an abnormal length of time, you’ll want to get it checked out.
2. You no longer participate in things you used to enjoy
A hallmark of mental health concerns is a decreased interest and participation in activities you once enjoyed. Mental health disorders have a way of disrupting a normal daily routine and if you find yourself cutting out social events, working out, going to the library or visiting family, it could be a sign that your mental well-being isn’t fairing well.
3. You develop unhealthy behaviors
When people ask themselves “how do I know if I need therapy?” it may be in response to increasingly unhealthy behaviors. There is a high co-occurrence of mental health disorders and substance use issues. Many mental health issues can also be spotted by an increase in risk-taking behaviors like reckless driving, sexual promiscuity and financial recklessness.
There are many additional signs of mental distress, but the important thing to note is that any abnormal and uncomfortable changes in your mental health are worthy of treatment and should be addressed with a mental health therapist.
What type of therapy do I need?
There are dozens of programs for recovery from mental health disorders and even more frameworks of practice and therapeutic modalities. When you partake in mental health services you’ll be expertly matched with a level of care that fits your needs, but here’s what you might want to know in advance.
The types of therapy
Medically managed intensive inpatient therapy: this is the most intense level of care and includes medical management as well as mental health services. You may need this type of care after a psychotic episode or suicide attempt or if you have a severe eating disorder.
Intensive inpatient therapy: inpatient care means residential care and patients stay overnight in a supervised facility. Inpatient care is often short term and this program is stepped down in intensity from medically managed inpatient therapy.
Intensive outpatient: outpatient is non-residential treatment and this type of care occurs on a normal work-week schedule for about eight hours a day.
Outpatient: outpatient therapy is what is most commonly thought of when you consider the type of therapy you need. This typically occurs for one or a few hours every week with the bulk of treatment being psychotherapy (talk therapy).
Continuing services: this type of program can extend for months or years and provides mental health therapy as well as assistance with finances, housing, education attainment, career opportunities and so forth.
Therapeutic modalities and frameworks
There are several different forms of therapy that can be practiced within each program of therapy. Here are a few you might benefit from.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is an evidence-based practice that focuses on changing thoughts, feelings and behaviors to change outcomes. CBT is often used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use disorders and more.
This type of therapy emphasizes a person’s potential and ability to create change for him or herself. This type of therapy can increase your motivation and create real and lasting change in your life.
Exposure therapy is used to treat anxiety and specific phobias and has been proven to be highly successful. Exposure therapy slowly increases a person’s closeness to the thing feared while teaching skills to manage distress.
Diverse therapeutic techniques
Many types of therapy focus on specific recreational or thought-provoking tasks, like art therapy, ecotherapy, animal-assisted therapy, music therapy and so forth. These techniques can be more engaging and work well with neuro-diverse clients.
Many practitioners use a combination of several frameworks in their practice and may include aspects of CBT, art therapy, exposure therapy, humanistic therapy and so forth.
What if I still don’t know what type of therapy I need?
If you’re still on the fence about whether your presenting concerns warrant therapy or counseling, your best bet is to play it safe and get a second opinion from a mental health care provider. Call The Light Program to see what type of services you can benefit from and make an appointment today.