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8 Signs that You May Need to Call Your Therapist

By Pam Montgomery, Feb 13 2016 07:08PM

It may be months, even years, since the last time you spoke with your therapist. You had a good experience, learned skills to cope with your struggles, overcame some hurtful things and gained valuable insights.

I could be that you stopped therapy knowing that you would need to return at some point or that you and your therapist agreed that you were doing well enough to gradually scale back and, eventually, complete therapy altogether.

So, how do you know if it might be wise to check back in with your therapist, even after some time has passed since your last appointment?

Here are some indicators that it might be wise to schedule appointment:

There has been a change in life’s circumstances

Whether it’s a change in job or relationship status, the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one, life’s circumstances are always changing and with that change comes stress.

Sometimes we are able to make appropriate adjustments to deal with the stress, whether positive or negative, and process the associated emotions, but sometimes these things become overwhelming.

If you feel overwhelmed with stress, grief, anxiety or sadness, it’s time to talk to someone objective who can walk you through this time with gentleness and compassion.

There has been a recurrence of previous therapeutic themes

Having worked through issues of trauma, codependence, or other issues, you had been doing well, but things are starting to come up again.

This is a natural, cyclical process of healing. Often, in therapy, healing occurs in what I call an upward spiraling cycle. We deal with an issue, learn new skills and practice living with new insights and healthier ways of coping until the process cycles around again and we seem to be dealing with the same issue AGAIN.

As we work to reprocess the issue, new insights are gained…insights you may not have been ready for before or new issues with the same theme reappear ie. You processed your codependency with your kids, but now you need to work through it in your relationship with your friends.

Each time the issue reappears, you are able to process and come to resolution more quickly, but the odds are that it will come up again in another iteration that will necessitate a call to your counselor – this is quite a normal occurrence. Your counselor will be happy to work with you toward deeper healing.

You’ve reverted to old, unhealthy coping skills

Whether your ‘fix’ came from shopping or controlling, anger or substance use, if you find yourself reverting to old coping mechanisms that you can’t seem to stop, it’s time to call your counselor.

Just like an alcoholic who reverts to drinking after years of sobriety, you might find yourself struggling to stop a behavior that you know to be self-destructive. It is important that you contact a helping professional to prevent these behaviors from interfering with your work and relationships and to become so overwhelming that more intensive, long-term treatment becomes necessary.

Life is feeling unbalanced

Often, in therapy, we talk about health as achieving balance in life. It’s fine when our beliefs, thoughts and behaviors fluctuate just slightly off-center and we are able to make the appropriate adjustments to get back on track.

However, when these things (unhealthy defense mechanisms, behaviors, thoughts, emotions) move far off-center, with great intensity or for prolonged periods of time without your being able to re-center and find balance, it might be time to contact your therapist to uncover the ‘why’ of the dysfunction and determine how to recover.

You feel overwhelmed

Everyone experiences anger or sadness at different periods in their lives. This is normal. However, it’s important to make note if these emotions are becoming intense and are impacting functioning in work, school or your relationships.

Are you spending hours ruminating in sadness or anger? Are you catastrophizing your circumstances, feeling hopeless and powerless? Is your anxiety become so intense that it impairs your life? Are you lashing out at the people around you or isolating out of a need to avoid life and its hardships?

If so, it’s probably time to talk to someone.

You have unexplained physical symptoms, exhaustion and general malaise

Emotional and relational problems often manifest in a wide variety of physical ailments. If you are experience headaches, stomachaches, frequent illness and fatigue your body may be converting stress into physical symptoms.

Muscle spasms, neck pain, even difficulty breathing can all be signs that you are carrying stress in your body. When we feel these things, we know to talk to a physician, but it might be helpful to talk to a counselor as well.

You feel disinterested in previously beloved activities

At one time, you felt joy in your hobbies, friendships and family activities, but something has changed. If these once life-giving activities now bring seem mundane and pointless, bringing no joy or happiness, speaking with a counselor may help uncover the reasons for the change, bring clarity to the situation, and allow for a shift toward greater fulfillment.

Your love ones are concerned

Often, the people who love you will notice changes in your behavior and patterns that might be hidden even from your own awareness. If your friends and/or family share their concern, consider their perspectives wisely. If they suggest talking to a counselor or ask if you’re talking to someone, this is a sign that you might need to check in and get some support from a professional.

Even more concerning is if your relationships with your loved ones are strained, communication is failing and connections are being cut off as your friends struggle to engage with you. This is a red flag that it is time to call in reinforcements to determine what changes can be made and healing can be facilitated.

If you are noticing any of these patterns, shifts or situations are happening, please don’t hesitate to contact your therapist for help regaining balance and health.

If you don’t have a therapist or are seeking a new counselor, please feel free to contact me at to set up a half-price, 50-minute consultation so we can connect and make a plan for your healing.

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