Why starting therapy before you are in crisis could be just as important or helpful as seeking care when you are at your peak levels of stress.
We often feel as though there is never a good time to start therapy. Either work is really busy, or you have a lot of travel coming up, or you already feel overextended in your day to day life. It may be difficult to think of therapy as something on the top of your priority list, perhaps because you don’t feel like a priority at times. Most people do not seek therapy services until they really need it. They might find themselves in a crisis or have finally had enough of feeling awful.
The Downside of Waiting
Unfortunately, this approach leaves many with few options. Most places have waitlists or may not be able to accommodate the days or times you need. So, you may end up compromising in other areas of your life, in order to fit therapy in, increasing your already heightened stress levels. Furthermore, in a crisis you may not have the luxury of being able to find a therapist that is a good fit, and settling for someone who is a “fit” merely because they have availability.
The Importance of Finding a “Good Fit”
Given these limitations, it might be beneficial to think of summertime as your time to recharge, focus on your needs, and get connected with a therapist on your terms. What I mean by that is having the time to find a therapist that is truly a good fit. At the most basic level, a “good fit” could be something as simple as finding a therapist that has the days and times that work best for your schedule. On a deeper level, it means finding a therapist that you connect with, feel comfortable with, and has a background or specialty in what you are struggling with (i.e. depression, anxiety, trauma, etc).
Just as no two snowflakes are the same, no two therapists are the same. Different therapists have different training and qualifications, which means they bring different things to the table. Therapists often utilize different therapeutic approaches, based on their background and specialty areas. And just like everyone else, we all have different personalities! You might find that you enjoy and respond well to a therapist that uses humor in your sessions, but have a therapist that seems very stoic and somber.
The reason I am harping on finding a “good fit” is because research suggests that having a strong, positive relationship with your therapist is correlated to positive therapy outcomes. To put it in a nutshell: a good therapy relationship equals less symptoms and more joy.
Research-Based Evidence of Seeking Care Before Things Are Bad
Research tells us that having a good relationship with your therapist is important. Research also suggests that early intervention for mental health issues tends to have strong positive outcomes. By connecting with therapy when you first notice you are struggling, it is likely that you would see a reduction in your symptoms faster, meaning you may not have to be in therapy as long! Which means, you can get back to feeling like your true self faster!
Think about it this way: if you sprain your ankle and get it examined right away, you would probably get an ankle brace and instructions to avoid strenuous activity for a couple weeks. If you ignored the sprain and keep walking on it, over time your ankle may have fractured or broke, requiring a cast, no walking at all, and lots of follow up care, putting you out for months. One could easily imagine how much strain this would put on your life and finances. The same is true of caring for yourself as you face a mental health issue.
So, if you’ve been wavering on whether or not this is the right time to get therapy, I would say the time is now! Please feel free to visit our website and read more about the clinicians at Integrated Care Clinic to get a sense of whether we would be a good fit, and give us a call. We are here and would be happy to help!