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Here's How To Know If You Could Benefit From Therapy

Because it's not just something ~other people~ do.

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You've probably wondered whether or not you should try out this whole therapy thing.

But you may have stopped yourself because therapy seems like something for other people, not you. But here's the thing: There are a million ways therapy can help just about anyone.

Important: Therapists won't tell you exactly what to do or give you advice (shocking — I know). But what they can do is help you work through certain roadblocks and give you the tools and understanding to help you decide what to do. So, to highlight all the ways therapy can make your life better, BuzzFeed Health talked to clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., and clinical psychologist Ryan Howes, Ph.D. Here are just some of the many reasons to hit up a therapist.

1. You need a guilt-free place to focus on YOU and you only.

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You may have friends and family to vent to, but sometimes you need a space where you can talk about yourself without someone making it about them or expecting anything in return. "It's amazing how much better life feels when you have someone who's in your corner — a person who's focused on supporting you and who's an expert at it," says Howes.

2. You need a place to practice being more assertive, more social, more vulnerable, more whatever.

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Therapy is a low-stakes place to improve bits of yourself that are getting in the way of your life, says Howes. Maybe you're super nonconfrontational and need to learn how to stick up for yourself. Maybe you're super shy and need to practice talking to strangers. Maybe you're bad at talking about your feelings and need to open up. THERAPY IS A SAFE SPACE TO TRY ALL THESE THINGS.

3. You're miserable at your job.

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You can learn to deal with shitty co-workers and bosses, get communication skills to help you ask for that promotion you deserve, strike a good work-life balance, and arguably most important, figure out why you're so miserable there in the first place.

"A lot of people are in jobs they hate because they don't know what it is they really want to do," says Howes. "That's what we can help with. What's your bigger purpose? What are you really about? Once we figure that out, you can orient yourself toward and in your career rather than doing things that are unnecessary to what you really want."

4. Or you need a job.

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OK, so a therapist isn't a career counselor and definitely won't be placing you in any jobs. But they can work with you on the emotional, motivational, and organizational side of things by helping you make a plan and holding you accountable, says Howes. Not to mention, they'll help you deal with stress. "The stress from not having a job is sometimes something that prevents people from getting a job in the first place," he says.

5. Your moods and emotions feel out of control lately.

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For example, if you always used to feel excited about a certain activity and now you couldn't care less about it. Or you find yourself crazy irritated with all of your friends for no good reason. Significant changes from what you considered ~normal~ are a big red flag that there's something deeper going on, says Bonior.

6. You want to role-play out a tough or scary conversation you need to have.

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Life is full of sticky situations you're probably avoiding. Ending a relationship. Starting a relationship. Asking your boss for a raise. Quitting your job. Confronting estranged family members. Telling someone they hurt you. All of the above. "Therapy is a great space to role-play those things out and see how it might go and what feelings come up," says Howes.

7. You want to be more self-aware or emotionally intelligent.

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"I think a lot of us go through our lives without stepping back to say, 'What do I really want and how do I feel?'" says Howes. Learning more about what you want, how you react to and feel about certain situations and people, and what things have shaped you as a person can all be really helpful in giving you perspective in all aspects of your life.

8. You recently went through a trauma and need support.

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"That’s sometimes one of therapy’s best uses, is for somebody to listen in an objective way, to give you a safe space to talk through your feelings," says Bonior. "If you had a trauma, if you were abused, if you’re grieving, if you lost a loved one, if you had a serious breakup. It’s those times when therapy can feel very special."

9. Or you're ready to talk about something that happened in your past.

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Sometimes, there are really formative events — traumas or otherwise — that you never fully dealt with. And when you want to deal with them, you might not know where to turn. Therapy is that place, says Bonior.

10. You're finding it nearly impossible to go to school or work.

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"A lot of times, this is a strong sign that there’s an actual psychological disorder, but even if there’s not, if it’s gotten to the point where your daily life is negatively affected, that’s a sign therapy could really help you," says Bonior.

11. Your relationships have all been rocky lately.

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If it feels like your relationships are all hard work or you’re spending a lot of time trying to do damage control, Howes says that points toward an issue that could use some attention in therapy. "If you’re finding everywhere you turn you’re having to put out fires in your relationships, you might be the common denominator there," he says.

12. You've noticed a pattern in your life and need to ask, "Is it me?"

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Maybe you've been fired from your last couple of jobs. Maybe you keep butting heads with people in your family. Maybe all your new friendships or relationships only last a month, tops. "A therapist is a great objective ear to figure out, 'Is this me, or is it them?'" says Bonior. "We can help illuminate the pattern and what behavior it involves."

13. You have a habit of self-sabotaging.

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Maybe it’s chronic severe procrastination. Maybe it’s binge drinking. Maybe you keep pushing people away. "If you notice you’re consistently not acting in your best interest or doing things that keep you from meeting your goals, and don't know why or how to stop, that's another reason to see somebody," says Bonior.

14. You have a goal you want to achieve but need some help or motivation.

Sure, there are some superhumans out there who can self-motivate and achieve their goals through sheer will, but it doesn't hurt to have someone in your corner. A therapist is a great person to help you enact a plan and, more importantly, check in and keep you accountable, says Bonior.

15. You need feedback about how you come off to others.

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Sometimes it just helps to have someone objective to point out some habits that might be holding you back. "It could be something minor that I notice and bring to their attention," says Bonior. "I can say, 'OK, you interrupt me a lot — do you do this outside of the therapy room?' or, 'I notice you never make eye contact with me and it comes across this way.' Things like that."

16. You want to learn relaxation or mindfulness techniques and other self-care exercises.

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Therapy is chock-full of useful tools that you can go and apply elsewhere to improve your quality of life, says Howes.

17. You want to know if something you do is normal.

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According to Bonior, lot of people can really be bothered by questions of, "Am I the only one who does this? Am I the only one who feels this way? Is this weird?"

"Sometimes just getting that off your chest and talking to a therapist can help de-stigmatize it," says Bonior. "Usually I'm able to say, 'No. That's fine. In fact, I've heard of this a lot before.'"

18. You want to improve your relationships and be a better partner.

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"When you’re in therapy, you’re working with someone who is like a relationship expert," says Howes. "You get practice bringing up the hard topics, sharing of emotions, having conflict and resolving it, making connections."

Not to mention, the more you know about yourself and your habits, the better partner you are, says Howes. Being self-aware of how you react to certain situations — like being able to say, "OK, I'm the person who needs to have a plan" or "I know I tend to feel irrational jealousy about these things" — minimizes dozens of arguments in relationships and leads to better communication.

19. You can't control your negative or racing or anxious thoughts.

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"It’s normal for people to be a bit stressed out, but if your thoughts are racing so fast and you can’t shut them down and it’s affecting your day-to-day life or your sleep, that’s a reason to get some help," says Howes.

20. You need help forgiving someone in your life.

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No matter the situation, forgiveness is hard as hell and a therapist is the perfect person to help you work through those complicated emotions.

21. You've been using a substance or behavior as a crutch.

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Maybe alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, eating, something, has started to play a bigger role in your life than you want it to. "If it’s enough that you’re raising the question of if something is a problem, then maybe that’s enough of a sign you should go and talk to someone about it," says Howes.

22. You get distracted too easily or always feel scattered.

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It's a common symptom to a lot of disorders that people don't often pay attention to, says Howes. But if you're feeling it — or other people are pointing it out — there may be something else going on.

23. You just really need someone right now.

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Yes, it's a professional relationship, but it's also a weird, wonderful, intimate one, probably unlike any other connection you have. "You really form a close bond with one another," says Howes.

24. You need another thing to truly look forward to every week or month.

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"Here’s one: Therapy isn't a drag," says Howes. "I think a lot of people are afraid of therapy because they think it's going to be cold and distant, and that they’ll feel bad about everything. But really, that’s not it at all. I laugh my ass off with my clients. We have breakthroughs together. It can be really fun."

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