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How do I know if I’m ready for therapy or if it is even right for me?

This is a really important question to ask yourself before starting therapy, but it is also a tricky one to answer, particularly if you haven’t tried therapy before. However, it might be worth taking the time to ask yourself these questions to help guide your decision making:

  • What are my hopes and goals for therapy?
  • Do I have a specific difficulty / problem / worry that I want to work on?
  • Am I interested in learning more about myself and my difficulties?
  • What would be the pros of having therapy and what would be the cons?
  • But also – what would be the pros and cons of not having therapy, which is equally important to consider
  • What are the barriers to me having therapy, both practical (e.g. work and family commitments, forthcoming holiday, financial) and internal (e.g. attitudes towards asking for help, worries about what someone else might think about me)
  • What could I do to overcome these barriers?
  • Is therapy something that has been suggested to me by someone else – why might that be?
  • Or is therapy something that I am considering for myself (i.e. is my motivation internal)?
  • Is this a recurring theme for me? Have I had this dilemma before and what is the same or different now?
  • Do I know someone else who has had therapy who I could talk to for some advice?

If you have had therapy before, you may be considering going back for some more but feel unsure if this is a good idea. In addition, maybe you tried it in the past and you didn’t like it or found it unhelpful. In which case, you may also want to consider these questions:

  • What was it about therapy last time that I liked / disliked?
  • Considering the above, what would I aim to look for in a therapy / therapist?
  • Was I ready the last time that I tried?
  • What has changed since that time? Am I in a better place emotionally to feel safe enough to explore my emotions?
  • Is building trusting relationships associated with the problems that I want to address? If so, what would I need from a therapy/therapist to help me manage this as best I can?
  • Have I given myself enough time to put my previous therapy into practice?
  • Do I feel clear about what type of therapy will best meet my need? Did it feel like the best fit last time? If no, what would need to be different?

There are so many therapies and therapists available that it can feel completely overwhelming when considering where to start. Many NHS and independent therapists will offer an initial telephone consultation for free and this is a good opportunity to consider some of the questions above. But please remember that if one therapy or therapist doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t mean that therapy overall isn’t for you. So often it takes trial and error to find the best time and the best fit.