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How to Know When to Start and When to End Therapy

Therapy, or anything centered around mental health counseling, can benefit anyone who struggles with emotions, life’s challenges, and their own mental health. Mental health issues are not uncommon. Statistics from the National Alliance of Mental Health show one in five American adults live with a mental health condition and one in 25 live with a serious one.

Therapy can improve symptoms of mental health conditions and cope with symptoms that do not respond quickly to treatment. Therapy can be effective for everybody. While medication can reduce symptoms of mental health conditions, therapy helps people cope with them on their own. Symptoms may continue to improve even after therapy ends.

Only around 40 percent of people who have mental health conditions seek treatment. Untreated mental health conditions often worsen over time, leading to worse and worse symptoms.

Starting Therapy

A Group Sitting for a Therapy Session
Therapy is not necessarily one-on-one. If you are more comfortable in a group, that is another option. 

Therapy offers a safe place to talk about life’s challenges. Everyone’s challenges are different, and it is always okay to talk to someone about your own. Therapy is recommended when any mental or emotional concern affects your daily life.

Talking to a therapist can help you understand why you are feeling what you are feeling and how to cope with it. There is no commitment to therapy. Scheduling sessions can happen one at a time.

Do You Need Therapy?

Starting therapy is a big decision. It is common to take time before feeling prepared to go to therapy. It is also possible for your symptoms to lessen with time and the support of family and friends. It is difficult to know when a mental or emotional concern is affecting your life and at what point you should consider therapy. Some signs include:

  • When thinking about or coping with the issue takes over an hour every day
  • It embarrasses you and drives you to avoid others
  • It decreases your quality of life or negatively affects you in school, work, or relationships
  • You have developed new habits to help cope with it.

The specific effects and symptoms will vary from person to person, but talking to a therapist can help you understand what is going on.

Possible Symptoms

The symptoms of mental or emotional concerns vary from person to person, but they include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed. The feeling of having too many things on your plate and not enough time to do them. This can lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Feeling fatigued. This symptom often arises with other mental health symptoms. Feeling fatigued leads to sleeping more and having difficulties getting out of bed in the morning. It is also often a symptom of depression. 
  • Disproportionate feelings of rage, anger, or resentment. This symptom can manifest in extreme reactions to everyday situations.
  • Agoraphobia, the fear of being in a place where you might experience a panic attack. This fear can lead people to stay away from crowds and even friends. 
  • Having anxious or intrusive thoughts. If unchecked, these thoughts can take up over an hour of your day or lead to physical symptoms.
  • Feeling apathetic. Losing interest in common activities or what is going on around you can indicate depression or anxiety. 
  • Social withdrawal. Feeling distressed or afraid around others, especially your friends, is a serious sign of a mental health concern.  

All of these symptoms are things that affect most, if not all of us on a regular basis. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend some time on your own, or feeling sluggish in the morning, and wanting to stay in bed. This can be said for all of these symptoms.

The danger comes when these symptoms worsen. When they affect your daily life. Seeing a therapist can help understand where these feelings are coming from and lessen the severity of the symptoms.

How Therapy can Help

The act of talking to someone who is there to listen is a great thing. Therapy can help you understand yourself. The therapist may be able to make connections that you have not made or offer you guidance. They help you make decisions.

If you have dreams, but they feel impossible to reach, a therapist can help set milestones and goals to start your journey. It can help you communicate with yourself and with others, improving your relationships.

Lessening mental health symptoms often leads to reduced stress and anxiety. As your mental wellness increases, so will your physical wellness.

Ending Therapy

Walking on a Bridge
There may be a point where you are comfortable ending your therapy. Even after it is over, its benefits can continue. 

It is important to keep in mind what your goals of therapy are. Most people going to therapy don’t intend to continue going forever, and having goals is an important first step.

Even with goals in mind, it can be difficult to know when to end therapy. In a good scenario, you might feel that you feel able to handle the emotions and concerns you entered therapy with. In a less ideal scenario, you may feel like you have hit a wall, and are no longer making significant progress.

Hopefully, you and your therapist can talk about the possibility of ending therapy. Getting a green light from them is a great sign that you can manage the twists and turns of life without a therapist at your side.

Next Steps

When you stop going to therapy regularly, one door that remains open is to go every once in a while. Returning once every couple of months or on a longer time frame is a common follow-up to terminating regular therapy sessions.

Your therapist should not apply any pressure for you to stay. It is your decision whether or not to continue with therapy.

It is possible that your therapist will terminate your sessions. They may no longer believe they can provide adequate care at this time, and that’s okay. They should recommend you to another therapist if that is the case.

Knowing if Therapy is Right for You

It is difficult to know if now is the right time to start going to therapy. If you are having doubts about whether or not to go, you can schedule one session and see how it goes. Almost anyone can benefit from going to therapy, even if it is not on a regular basis.