The “struggles” and problems I face may seem small. I worry about doing well at work, I wonder if my friends secretly hate me, I stress out about my rent increasing every year.
You know: they're the regular problems of simply being human.
Can I justify going to a therapist to talk about my problems that seem so insignificant in comparison to others who may have more serious issues?
“Therapy can be what keeps a small problem or conflict from becoming a big one," says licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Ben Caldwell, Psy.D.
Getting a trained mental health professional's outside perspective on your problems and personal challenges can be hugely beneficial.
Are my problems too small for therapy?
“When people wonder if their problem is big enough or important enough to warrant a visit to a therapist, it can be helpful in those moments to think of a therapist as something more like a consultant," Dr. Caldwell explains.
I understand I'm lucky. I grew up in a devoted two-parent household. I was provided with the means for and access to a high-tier education. I’ve had great friends and healthy, loving romantic relationships. I was born into the privilege of being a white, able-bodied, cisgender woman.
I’m not even left-handed.
The expression “get help” sounds like advice for someone whose life has spiraled out of control.
This thinking is even more insidious in some marginalized communities where the idea of seeking treatment for mental health can come with a hefty stigma.
In reality, going for therapy now is like an investment in your future mental health.
Seeing a therapist now can be the step that helps to prevent or avert a serious mental health crisis later or enables you to handle such a crisis if it arises.
Consider people who choose to work out with a certified physical trainer at the gym.
Some fitness clients work with the trainer to heal an injury. Other clients work with the trainer to strengthen specific muscle groups they’ve neglected. Others go to the gym to want to feel stronger or healthier.
In my case, I go to the gym just to have a routine to keep my world in order and my brain in check.
Going to therapy can be viewed similarly.
Of course, there are people who go to therapy to work through long-standing trauma or acute struggles like alcohol or drug addiction.
But there are also those who decided to go to therapy to learn how to be better listeners or how to stop procrastinating.
Similar to training your body at the gym, training your mind with the help of a therapist or counselor can be strengthening and preventative.
If you still feel like your problems aren't big enough to bring to a session with a therapist, you might want to look into group therapy.
In group therapy, those who don’t want to do any talking can listen to others with similar concerns share how they do—or do not—deal with these issues.
By observing and empathizing with people in comparable situations, we come to find that we aren’t alone in our struggles.
Listen, it’s hard to be a human.
If you have worries like saving for retirement or trouble sleeping, or if you just want to enjoy your social life without the nagging feeling you’re not as fun or interesting as your friends, know that you can feel better.
You owe it to yourself to feel better.
“I've never known anyone whose big regret about seeing a therapist was that they did it too soon,” says Dr. Caldwell. “I've known lots of folks whose regret was that they waited too long as their problems got worse.”
How to find a therapist to talk with
You don't have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to benefit from therapy.
However, for therapy to be effective, it's important that you find the right therapist—someone you trust and who has the experience to help you make positive changes in your life.
With a network of over 100,000 therapists, the Monarch Directory by SimplePractice makes it easy to find and book the right therapist.
Monarch makes it easy to connect with therapists and counselors near you.
Need to find a therapist near you? Check out the SimplePractice Monarch Directory to find therapists with availability and online booking.