How Do You Know if You Need to See a Psychologist?
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
Socrates’ advice, now 2400 years old, is as relevant today as it was then. If you think about it, self-understanding helps us solve many of our problems, and if we can’t find that self-understanding ourselves, then seeing a psychologist may be the answer.
“I don’t get along with a coworker. What should I do?” “I can’t seem to make friends. Am I doing something wrong?” “I’m unhappy most of the time. How can I feel better?” “Sometimes my child drives me crazy and I don’t know what to do.” “How can I be a better parent?”
The answers to these questions, like many others, all involve understanding how we think about ourselves and the world in which we live.
What Are Some Signs That You May Need To See a Psychologist?
At some point in each of our lives, we feel overwhelmed by the decisions we’re facing or the experiences we’re having. A job may not be what we’d hoped, relationships are not working out, a loved one has died, or stress is keeping us up at night. Our typical ways of handling events like these may not be working and instead of moving forward, we’re either standing still or going backward.
It may be hard to carry out normal, everyday activities. We have a hard time concentrating, and worrying becomes more frequent and extreme than usual. We feel helpless, sad, and hopeless. Worst of all, our problems do not get better despite our efforts and help from family and friends.
Sometimes, we respond to life’s difficulties with severe, negative behavior. Too much drinking, abusing drugs, and being overly argumentative and aggressive are all signs that we are spinning out of control. In some cases, physical health deteriorates and thoughts surface of hurting oneself or others.
When life is no longer the way we want it to be, we think, feel and act much differently than we normally would, and when we can’t correct this on our own, it may be time to seek help from a psychologist.
Why Is Talking To a Psychologist Helpful?
In my work as a San Francisco psychologist, I am often asked why people should seek professional therapy. It’s important to keep in mind that psychologists are experts in areas of human behavior and mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Psychologists are trained to help people modify their behaviors and can provide solutions that you may not have thought about.
For example, you may not recognize that you expect everyone to disappoint you, no matter how hard you try to trust others. An expert in human dynamics can show you alternative ways to think about and respond to relationships.
Through therapy, you will also find yourself generating your own ideas through the process of talking—ideas you hadn’t thought of before.
The process of talking to someone familiar with how people think and feel will help you experience yourself in new and different ways. A person who struggles to trust others can experience what it feels like to be safe, to rely upon someone, to expect help and have confidence in other people.
Seeing a San Francisco Psychologist
As a San Francisco psychologist, I encourage my patients to establish clear goals at the beginning of therapy. This provides a way to later assess our progress.
Sometimes, goals change as problems becomes clearer or new problems arise. Some goals take longer to accomplish than others. However, when we know what we want to achieve from the beginning, we can better determine whether we’re making progress.
It is a good sign if you feel a sense of relief and hope in therapy. That won’t happen in every session. Discussing painful and troubling experiences is emotionally difficult. When therapy is helpful, you’ll recognize that you are getting somewhere, that things aren’t as bad as they used to be, and that your life has improved. You can identify solutions that you didn’t realize before, and the path forward is clearer. These are all signs that therapy is working.
Therapy can be a life-changing experience. As George Elliot once said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is a San Francisco psychologist with over 25 years of experience. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 415-922-1122.