Knowing when it’s time to go to the psychologist isn’t always easy. After all, psychological problems can take on a wide variety of forms , and it is difficult to talk about a particular profile of person who attends psychotherapy consultations.

Depending on the social context in which we live, our needs and preferences, and even our personality, the reasons why we may need professional help vary greatly.

So, it is relatively normal that between detecting an illness and going to a psychology centre for the first time, there is a period of time in which the patient asks himself… how do I know if I need a psychologist? Let’s look at some key tips and ideas to help you make the best decision.

How to know if you need a psychologist

Mental health has moved from an area where “the crazy” were stigmatized to one where the mind is understood to be too complicated to be classified in the categories “healthy” and “sick”. We now understand that psychological problems, regardless of their severity, fall within the realm of normality: the strange thing would be not to have gone through any of them at some point in our lives .

That’s why many people are not clear about how to decide what line you’re supposed to cross to have a good reason to go to therapy. In the following lines, we will look at several guidelines for knowing when a psychologist is needed.

1. Focus on suffering

There are people who wonder whether or not to go to a psychologist simply because they do or have done something that someone has told them is wrong.

However, this is not a good criterion for considering whether to go to a psychotherapy consultation, because the focus of the therapy is not exactly on the ethical scales that each person follows, but on the idea of whether or not there is suffering associated with a behaviour. Suffering in the one who performs it or in the people around the one who performs it.

On the other hand, the same behavior can be called immoral by one person, and totally normal by another. Moral dilemmas, while relevant, are not the priority of psychotherapy.

2. Make sure it is psychological

Psychologists treat cognitive and emotional problems, but not those related to physical pain. No, headaches don’t count either.

However, if there is a physical condition that generates psychological consequences , such as stress or obsessive ideas, then it is appropriate to consider whether to go to psychotherapy or not.

3. Does discomfort keep you from a normal life?

When deciding when to go to the psychologist, this question is key, as helps to understand the seriousness of the discomfort experienced .

4. Define the type of problem

First of all, we must try to understand where the problem that makes us suffer or feel bad begins and ends.

The first thing to ask is if the problem is mainly one of oneself or not ; if the problem is clearly related to the context, and not to oneself, it is not worth attending therapy. For example, if a homosexual person is one and at the same time feels very good about his life, he should not go to therapy even if certain people treat him as someone who is sick, since in this case the problem is only homophobia and this does not cause a significant psychological drain.

However, the answer to the question of whether the problem is in oneself or in others will normally not be very clear, since psychology also has to do with the way in which people relate to the environment and this affects them.

In any case, one should bear in mind that it is possible that one has a problem oneself by experiencing much suffering and that the responsibility for the problem lies with others . An example of this would be the discomfort experienced when suffering harassment.

5. Ask for advice

This is an important resource that is often underutilized. Asking for the opinion of friends and family helps to provide an interesting perspective, because even though it may be paradoxical, others are able to give us more information about what is happening to us than we have ourselves just by living those experiences. Emotional involvement can make our knowledge about our lives distorted.

6. Consider if the problem is recurrent

If the discomfort is a matter of a few hours or a few days and you think it will go away soon, most of the time you won’t need the help of a psychotherapist. The exception to this has to do with traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one or an accident. In these cases, it is more likely that you will need help because of the possibility of developing sequelae, although not always.