Skip to Main Content

Life's Stresses Provide Plenty of Reasons to See a Therapist

Chances are you lead a busy life. Work, family, friends, hobbies -- they all make life more exciting and fulfilling, but they also provide plenty of stress. Those stresses can become good reasons to see a therapist. While everyone deals with some stress, too much stress can start to affect your work, your relationships, and the way you feel about yourself. Stress can also affect your health.

Why Not Now?

The warning signs of stress can be easy to overlook at first. Perhaps you've missed a few deadlines at your job, or you've been short with your spouse or kids. Maybe you're skipping work or family activities because of frequent headaches, stomachaches, or other symptoms. We all experience these things occasionally. When they become more frequent or start to add up, it might be time to seek help.

"People seek out therapy when something in life is not going right, and it interferes with things that are important," says Vaile Wright, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist representing the American Psychological Association (APA).

A trained professional can help you recognize and change patterns of behavior and thinking that can get in the way of a healthy and happy life. Therapy sessions can give you time to focus on your feelings and stressors, and find solutions that work for you.

Be Proactive about Your Health

Evidence shows that therapy helps more than your emotional health -- it can lead to better health overall. Stress is implicated in a host of conditions, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. Treating stress by talking to a trained professional can help reduce the risk or improve the outcomes of these conditions. Dr. Wright points to a study that showed that treating depression in diabetic patients led to improvement in diabetes as well as depression symptoms.

"It's an amazing gift to yourself," says Dr. Wright. But how can you get the most out of therapy?

Find the Right Fit

To find a therapist, you can ask your primary care provider for a referral or a list of preferred providers. The APA and the publication Psychology Today also have online provider lists that allow you to search by location, areas of expertise, and insurance coverage. These listings may also include a statement from the therapist to give you an idea of their approach to therapy.

Dr. Wright suggests contacting several therapists to find one that you feel you'll work well with. Many therapists will offer a short initial visit or phone call free of charge in which you can discuss your situation and see how they respond to your reasons to see a therapist. Dr. Wright recommends asking the therapist about how they believe people can best make changes and improvements in their lives. If the answer makes sense to you, then that therapist might be a good fit.

Give the Process Time

While some people report feeling better after just a session or two, it can take a number of sessions before you start to see a real change. You and your therapist may want to set some goals for your work together, such as an increased feeling of hope or relief, a change in behavior, or a clarification of your feelings about a situation. If you don't see progress toward those goals, it may be time to re-evaluate the treatment approach.

Keep Trying

There are a lot of reasons why therapy may not work the first time you try. Working collaboratively with your therapist and your primary care provider may help you find the right treatment plan. Sometimes adding medication, exercise, meditation, group therapy, or other approaches can help improve results.

Therapy can be hard work, Dr. Wright admits, but it's worth the effort. "We have good data that therapy works," she says. Although medication may also be effective in relieving symptoms, therapy itself "gives you something that medication alone cannot: life skills and tools to deal with pressure going forward."

5 Questions Women Should Ask Their Primary Care Physician

MAR 01, 2023

Going to the doctor can be stressful. Whether for a general exam or a specific health problem, there is often so much information to process that we don't think to ask questions during our visit or simply feel embarrassed to ask.

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | 5 Questions Women Should Ask Their Primary Care Physician

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

SEP 12, 2022

It's important to remember that vitamins and supplements cannot take the place of a healthy diet. For example, pregnant women should eat multiple servings of fresh green vegetables and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Higher doses of certain vitami...

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | *

Breastfeeding for Working Moms: 5 Tips to Guide You

SEP 12, 2022

It's often said that breastfeeding is a full-time job. And in those first few weeks of motherhood, when it feels like you're feeding constantly, it certainly can be. But what happens a few months later when you have to go back to work?

Read More Additional information about Dignity Health | How to Make Breastfeeding for Working Moms Easy