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How do I know when it’s time for therapy?

Minisode 1 | March 22, 2022

How do I know when it's time for me (or someone I love) to seek therapy?

Our first minisode in a series about finding and utilizing the mental health support you or a loved one may need.


Welcome to “That’s a Hard No” – the podcast about saying no and setting boundaries so you can become the authentic and empowered you that this world needs.

Reminder: While Sarah is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, this podcast is in no way replacement for one-on-one therapy with a mental health professionalIf you are struggling with mental health issues, we welcome you on this journey, but also invite you to seek out professional help.

Looking for a therapist? Here’s a good place to start:


In season 2 of That’s a Hard No, we’re making it a priority to dig deeper into the process of finding and utilizing the mental health support you may need. We’re taking some time to discuss with our “in-house expert,” Sarah Saunders, what to expect from therapy and all of its intricacies.  

When to Know if You Need Therapy

Try to remember not to shame, blame, judge, or criticize yourself. Simply bring awareness to some of these signs that may indicate you need the help of a professional:

  • Your daily functioning and quality of living are impaired. You’re not able to perform as effectively in your regular daily roles as you previously have.
  • You’re having trouble processing something in your life, especially big transitions or major life events. Therapy is normal and helpful for all, however, with big changes come big stressors. During these times of adjustment, you may be more susceptible to misalignment in your life. When things feel out of your control you may struggle to the point where therapy is the best step for support.
  • You’d like help working through difficult family or relationship dynamics. Especially as new parents, we may reevaluate and question everything from our upbringing. We may start to become aware of patterns that once seemed “normal” but now recognize as dysfunctional – yet we don’t know how to process that or where to start to change patterns.  
  • You no longer find joy or enjoy things that you used to. This is different than your interests simply changing. This is something to be specifically mindful of when post-partum or going through a major life change. It could be a symptom of depression. 
  • Your emotions have intensified… and often your reaction doesn’t match the event that occurred (“mom-rage” anyone?). 
  • Unhealthy habits are becoming problematic. Most often, drugs or alcohol come to mind here, but this can also manifest as excessive spending or shopping, excessive exercise, extreme changes in eating patterns, or risky behaviors. 
  • Relationships distress – your relationships aren’t being nurtured. Continued arguments with your partner, snapping at your kids, ignoring friends’ and families’ phone calls or texts, etc.
  • You’ve experienced a traumatic life event. Remember, there’s capital “T” trauma and lower case “t” trauma. It’s important not to minimize what you’ve gone through or compare yourself to others. Whatever you’ve gone through is real to YOU.
  • Your support system or “village” is diminished or non-existent. Having someone to talk to can make a huge difference.
  • You are experiencing intrusive thoughts. Disturbing thoughts that pop into your mind unprompted, or unexpectedly may make you feel uneasy. While intrusive thoughts may be disturbing, they are common. Remember, “thoughts are not facts” and they aren’t harmful or something to worry about unless this intrusive thought is disrupting your daily life. Also, if the thought becomes something that gives you a sense of relief… that can be a sign you need help.
  • Nothing else has helped. When other avenues for self-care (exercise, healthy sleep habits, and self-help books) aren’t providing the relief you need, therapy can provide additional assistance.
How to Talk to a Loved One About Seeking Therapy
  • Remember, it’s not your job to “fix, rescue, or save” anyone.
  • It’s important to honor your own experience, while also approaching the conversation with compassion and careful language.
  • Be mindful and sensitive to timing and place.
  • Use “I statements” and be specific. I feel concerned about you because I have noticed you’ve been canceling our plans frequently.” Be careful using “you” statements. If you start a conversation with you,  it will likely be met with defensiveness. At the core of your discussion should be empathy and concern for their well-being, not frustration with how their mood is impacting you. 
  • Try writing a letter first, to help organize your thoughts before you speak to your loved one.
  • Normalize therapy. Therapy is a wonderful, judgment-free zone for anyone – even people without a mental health condition – to talk through life challenges. It is important to talk about going to therapy as a normal part of life. 
  • Prepare for resistance. Your loved one might not be ready to hear what you are sharing, and that’s okay. It’s important that you take time to hear them and understand them, without being defensive, pushy, or giving up on them. Try to stay neutral and open. It’s okay to “park” the conversation and revisit it. If this happens, make sure to say something like “I’m here to talk when you’re ready.’ 
Resources & Recommendations
  • Book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb – This book is written by a therapist who dissects her experience in therapy herself. Viewing the perspectives of mental health as a professional and patient. (link to Amazon)
  • Talking to a Loved One About Seeking Therapy Guide – This guide can help you write down your thoughts and feelings about a loved one seeking therapy before the conversation. It can help you clarify specific reasoning and ways to communicate these concerns effectively. (click here to download)
  • “I Feel” Form – This worksheet allows you to create “I statements” about how YOU feel for tough conversations with non-confrontational language. (click here to download)
Read Full Transcript Here
Credits and Thanks