Tag Archives: mental health evaluation

How to evaluate if you need psychotherapy?

Do I need therapy?

Therapy: a badge of honor or a badge of shame? According to 2010 statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the United States there is an estimated 30 million adults diagnosed with mentally disorders. You might think that receiving therapy would be a priority. Not so, for many the question, do I need therapy remains a highly emotional topic.

There are several reasons for this reluctance to participate in therapy, among them are:

  1. Social stigma: In the US and Canada being labeled as mentally ill carries a social stigma. This stigma is the result of the public perception that being diagnosed and treated for a mental illness somehow makes the patient crazy.
  2. Cost: Yes, therapy can be expensive. The cost will depend on where the treatment is provided. A thorough check on local resources often can result in treatment options at very reasonable cost
  3. Availability: While mental health treatment is widely available there are some locales where services are limited or even non-existent.
  4. Knowing how to access service: Obtaining mental health treatment can be a challenge. Many questions arise like where do you start your search, what is available, how can you be sure that your choice of a service provider is the right one? Many communities have non-profit agencies that offer information and referrals for mental health treatment.
  5. A lack of knowledge about the process of therapy.

Certainly there are others reasons as well, including the focus this article, the question, do I need therapy? While a seemingly simple question, there are several underlying reasons why this question comes up. The main one is denial. Denial is our defense mechanism and it is often associated with comments like:

“They have always acted that way,”

“They will get over it,”

Just give them some time.”

“That’s just who they are.”

Everyone experiences times of sadness, stress, conflict, or any number of other troubling events. This is normal and in and of itself does not constitute a reason to seek therapy. It is when these events overwhelm you, become possessive of your life, and lead to poor decision making that therapy must be considered as an option.

Yet, there are those people who seem to have a higher tolerance for dealing with negative life events than others. Most of us know someone whose life appears to be lived on the edge.

This article is not intended to convince you either way, but to lay out a straightforward approach to honestly answering that question.