We all encounter challenges at some point in our life, be it in relationships with our partners or difficulty with family dynamics. Most often work is a huge source of anxiety or stress. The way we handle stresses such as this is different for everybody, sometimes we become more anxious, less social, depressed or lethargic. Other people respond by using alcohol or drugs, becoming more argumentative or worrying more. These dips in our functioning are normal and we often can work through things to come out the other side in a short matter of time.
Sometimes, the accumulation of stressors take their toll on us and we're unable to work through it by ourselves or by talking to friends. When we reach this point, it's probably wise to consider talking to a professional mental health provider who maybe able to help you and assist in providing more tools or strategies to deal with stress. Other times, it can help just in being in a therapeutic relationship with a professional like this. It sounds strange, but sometimes therapy is about borrowing someone's brain for an hour a week to help collaborate or ease the tension.
If you’re still on the fence about seeking out the help of a qualified licensed marriage and family therapist, there is a general guideline that might help in the form of a couple of easy questions:
1. Is the problem or the symptom you're experiencing causing you a considerable amount of distress?
2. Is it impacting or interfering with any part of your life?
If there's a 'yes' to either of these, it's recommended you think seriously about connecting with a professional marriage and family therapist. There are some more questions to consider below, which may help you see how you're being impacted by mental health issues.
- Is some part of your life becoming significantly impacted by your mental health issues? Are relationships or work being impacted by what's going on inside you? Is there an aspect of home or your friendships that's been affected? Are your friends worried about you or have they mentioned any concern about you?
- Is the way you normally cope with stress not working anymore? Perhaps a glass of wine at the end of the day is now two or three glasses. Maybe that therapeutic yoga session is not taking the edge off anymore?
- What about your sleep patterns? Are you spending significantly more or less time in bed? Are you waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety? Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning because you have some feelings of depression or apathy?
If you answer 'yes' to a lot of these questions, it's probably time to consider reaching out to a therapist. Sometimes a problem might not seem like a big deal, but it might nevertheless be impacting people in your life. This doesn't make them right or wrong, but when you consider how other's are being impacted, it may help you make the move to call or connect with a therapist.
The decision to enter into therapy is a very personal one. Sometimes there is a shame or stigma about reaching out, or even about what therapy is. There are now countless studies about therapy that have been shown it to be scientifically to be helpful. As you think about whether therapy might be helpful to you, remember that many psychological problems have been shown to be treatable using short-term therapy approaches.
Currently there are over 1400 different types of therapy available and without understanding all the variations, it might seem impossible to know how to pick the right person.
When people ask to see me in my private practice I often ask them what type of therapist they’re looking for. Sometimes people very clearly want a therapist who will give homework to help around a specific problem. They want structured assignments around a specific problem and to deal with things quickly -in which case I might refer them to a cognitive behavioral therapist.
Other times they are less specific and want to explore and understand themselves better, particularly when it comes to relationships, in which case, a psychodynamically trained therapist like myself might be a better match.
A call to myself, or another therapist may at least point you in the right direction if you're reading this and looking for a therapist. It's important also to know what to ask the therapist when you call, so think about what you might want from this service.
Most importantly, we have found from over a hundred years of doing therapy, that the relationship between you and your therapist is the most important healing factor there is. Ultimately, if you like your therapist, if you feel safe and secure - you've got the right person.
British born Oliver Drakeford is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles. He has experience providing therapy to adolescents and adults as well as providing family counseling and group therapy services in his clinical practice. He helps clients with a broad range of needs, from anxiety, depression, mood disorders and addiction issues, to communication issues within a family.
Oliver believes that it is his responsibility to make each client, whether an individual or family, to feel understood from the first meeting. He uses his extensive training in psychoanalytic, and family therapy to create a safe, non-judgmental environment and aims to generate an extraordinary connection that supports you and your family to improve your well-being. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Donald T. Brown Memorial Scholarship Award for Group Therapy from The Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health which gave him an exceptional experience and education in modern group therapy. He continues my training in group therapy and was recently accepted to study Modern Group Analysis at The Center for Group Studies in New York.
Oliver is the Lead Group and Family Therapist at an adolescent treatment center in Malibu. In family counseling sessions in Private Practice, Oliver works with families who are living with addiction, depression, and anxiety disorders.