Maybe you’re miserable in your marriage and the D-word has been on the tip of your tongue for months. Maybe you loathe the career that you’ve spent the past two decades cultivating. Or maybe the excitement you anticipated after moving to a new city turned out to feel a lot more like disappointment.
By Eilene Zimmerman
June 06, 2017

You could turn to a friend for advice. But you may want to keep your secret thoughts, well, secret. You could try talking to your doctor, but you might not feel comfortable unloading your emotions during a 20-minute office visit.

Or you could try therapy. Just 3 percent of Americans seek the help of a therapist, according to a 2010 study published in American Journal of Psychiatry. But far more could benefit from it, say the experts. “Many people equate therapy with serious issues, like clinical depression. But it’s good for so much more,” says Julie Nelligan, Ph.D., a psychologist in Portland, Oregon, and a former president of the Oregon Psychological Association. Talk-based treatment can enable you to work through specific issues, like marital woes or low self-confidence; navigate life transitions (a new baby, an empty nest); and cope with a health condition that’s affecting you or a loved one. In fact, therapy can help you thrive in the face of just about any issue that’s troubling you.

With life’s constant and inevitable ups and downs, it’s easy to get into the habit of saying “It will pass” to problems that you could deal with more efficiently with a professional’s help. Real Simple asked Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., the associate executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association, to describe the types of concerns that therapy can best address.

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