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In the past few years, mental health has become a part of a larger conversation among the black community. We are now becoming more focused on addressing our traumas and unresolved issues so that we can have a better quality of life and break the generational curses and toxic cycles within our family. Many have been trying to improve their mental health on their own (which is amazing) but have not yet sough help from a professional. Deciding to go to psychotherapy and be vulnerable with a person you don’t know isn’t an easy task, but it is life changing.  During my time as a psychotherapist I have encountered many people who are ready to engage in therapy and who are not ready. It is important to assess if you are ready to embark on this journey of change before you enter a psychotherapist’s office. Here are five signs that you are ready to start attending psychotherapy.

Being Willing To Admit There Is A Problem

I’ve worked with many people who have come to therapy against their will due to other circumstances in their life such as involvement with child protective services or court involvement. Though they have issues that need to be addressed, they are sometimes in denial about how they are contributing to the problems they are experiencing or that they have been through traumatic situations that are affecting their life currently. Not being willing to acknowledge that you have trauma or that your behaviors are causing problems in your life is a major barrier in psychotherapy. Admitting that you have a problem is the first indicator that you are ready for therapy.

You Are Ready To Commit To Change

When you decide to attend psychotherapy, you have to be willing to commit to creating change. This means you have to do more than show up. Once you leave that room, the work has to continue. For example, if you and your therapist speak about coping skills you can use and week after week you don’t use any of them, that’s an issue. The conversation begins between you and your therapist and it is your responsibility to use whatever tools you become equipped with outside of your session. It’s also important to discuss any resistance that you or the therapist may sense. Resistance is normal, as it is a response to having to experience something new and uncomfortable. While in therapy, you must be open to fight the resistance in order to see the change you desire in your life.

Acknowledging That You Need Help 

Many people know that they have been through some terrible things and that it negatively affects their everyday life but they are not willing to accept help from a professional. Walking around in pain, whether emotional or physical, is unhealthy. If you broke your arm, you would go to a doctor and get a cast so it would heal. It’s the same concept when it comes to psychotherapy. When you go through experiences that cause emotional pain, you seek professional help from a psychotherapist so you can heal.  You must realize that you need help so you can begin healing before you start therapy.

Recognizing That Your Behaviors And Actions Affect Others

There’s a saying that “Hurt people hurt people.” This means that when you are experiencing personal turmoil you unconsciously cause hurt to others. Your emotional instability, trauma or unresolved anger is bound to affect your personal and professional relationships. For example, I’ve worked with many people who cannot sustain employment or maintain relationships because of their trouble managing their anger. Some people I’ve worked with have estranged relationships with their parents or children and other loved ones because of they don’t want to acknowledge that they have hurt them. Recognizing that your unresolved issues are holding you back in your professional or personal life is crucial and once you are ready to do so, you will be able to make breakthroughs while in therapy.

Understanding The Risks Associated With Your Actions Or Lack Thereof 

People that struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues don’t realize that there are consequences associated with their behaviors. For example: the depressed mother that has trouble getting out of bed so her children are missing days of school is in danger of getting a case of neglect with child protective services. Or the father who struggles with managing his anger so he is too physically aggressive with his children may have them removed from his care. Or the person who engages in promiscuous sexual activity due to past abuse or an underlying mental illness which puts them in danger of being attacked or contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Understanding that you can put yourself in an undesirable situation because of your own actions is a sign that you are ready to seek help and make necessary changes.

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