If we just push through, things will eventually get better.
I’m not sure where that mindset came from, but I am certain that it was learned—and that it’s wrong. Many people don’t seek therapy until things have become so unmanageable that they can no longer function properly. Somewhere in the craziness of life, we have stopped listening to our bodies, minds, and spirits when they tell us we are doing too much, or that our lifestyle is not sustainable. So, what are the issues that eventually push women to find a good therapist?
1. Depression and Anxiety
I’d venture to say that most women have experienced some degree of depression and/or anxiety in life. Unfortunately, the response to these issues tends to be to snap out of it and be strong, but that’s just not always possible. In reality, these two things might be the most common presenting problems therapists see.
2. Adjustment Disorders
Transitions are difficult and oftentimes are beyond our ability to cope with alone. Sometimes you need someone to walk with you in the midst of a big change— becoming a parent, a job transition, moving to a new city, getting married, a breakup, the list goes on. Adding in the consistency of a weekly therapy session, not to mention the therapy itself, can make life a whole lot more manageable during these times.
3. Difficulty in Relationships
Have you ever stepped back to think about how the deepest emotional wounds are almost always relational? They are. As I once heard, “we are hurt in relationship and we heal in relationship.” To combat these inevitable wounds, we create both conscious and unconscious defense mechanisms against true intimacy. But when we face these relational wounds, whether in individual therapy or couples/family counseling, it creates the space necessary to break through these defenses.
At their root, addictions are formed to numb us from painful emotions. The problem is that when we protect ourselves from pain in this way we are actually robbing ourselves of the ability to feel anything— joy, love, gratitude, peace, connection. Women seeking therapy for their addictions are choosing to face pain head on in order to lead more authentic lives.
5. Mood Instability
PSA: Mood swings are not always because of a woman’s hormones. Many people struggle to effectively regulate their emotions. One minute they’re up, the next they’re down, and it is exhausting. This can actually be a diagnosable mood disorder, occurring for a variety of reasons. It interferes so much with daily life that I see many women coming in to learn how to better manage these cycles.
6. Disordered Eating
PSA #2: It does not have to be the plight of womanhood to hate your body. Like it or not, many women have some level of disordered eating or exercise habits even if they do not meet criteria for a full-blown eating disorder. Remember how addictions serve to numb pain? Food and exercise are one of the most common ways I see women numbing their emotions. The higher their stress levels, the more dysfunctional their relationship with food becomes. But once we start to see these patterns in therapy, we can create new ways to manage that don’t hurt or punish our bodies in the process.
Everyone needs support while grieving the loss of a loved one. Oftentimes the expectation from family or friends is to get over it within a certain amount of time, so we attempt to speed up the process or pretend we are okay long before we really are. Therapy creates space to slow down and let grief run its course, honoring the memory of who/what we lost.
8. Personal Growth
Often, women seek therapy simply to learn more about themselves and grow in self-awareness. There is no real conflict or crisis going on, but they desire a deeper sense of identity, purpose, and fulfillment in life. Therapy is a wonderful place to create the space to explore aspects of ourselves that the busyness of everyday life would not allow for otherwise.