Hey guys, it’s me here. Yes, your neighborhood therapist that writes blogs. It is not often that I change my answer on things (not because I am stubborn), but I am more of a leave it up to the person asking kind of guy. The question I am referencing here is “how do I know when is the right time to go to therapy?”. On a previous blog I said something along the lines of “it is up to you”, and I still believe that wholeheartedly, but I have feedback on my own answer now a couple of months later.
So my new answer to that question is simple, but I’ll explain in much more detail and that is “before it is too late”. What I mean by this is before yourself and anyone else involved gets caught in a state of reactivity because of exhaustion, frustration, and so many other complex emotions. All of the solutions to the issue are now in a snapshot and it is done as imagined means of self preservation which is smart, but think about how it may impact the therapy process if you or your family pursue it. I sometimes work with individuals/families who either are proactive in the presenting issue and they come to therapy because they notice it. I also work with those who have already displayed the pattern of reactivity that I mentioned earlier and bring that into the therapy process.
In no way am I saying that either case is worse than the other; however, a lot more time is spent in the therapy process working through the reactive patterns before addressing the root issue. I say that to say it is VITAL to accept that therapy is new and with newness comes starting over from the beginning. It is hard to step out of a pattern that has been effective as far as your emotional protection is concerned. With that in mind we must look at it from the lens of how it may perpetuate the issue and prolong therapy. Also, something else I would like to note is that if I am working with individuals who are very reactive then it takes MANY sessions to reverse patterns; in other words, we are not fixers or choose sides, we are only there to observe and see what works best overall.
I say all that to say this. If you are asking the question “should I/we seek help for this?” then the answer is definitely yes. You want to be proactive and not reactive, and maybe you don’t even reach the stage of reactiveness because you are so on top of it. I do not have a preference for which kind of issue I am working with as I feel everyone deserves an opportunity at therapy no matter what state they are in with their issue. One does seem to possibly prolong the process because it stands in the way of processing and instead the focus becomes de-escalation throughout the entire process. Doesn’t that sound draining!?