The courage to begin: Signs you're ready to start therapy

Recognising when you are ready for therapy is significant because the prospect of counselling can be daunting. To embark on a therapy journey takes courage.


You might ask yourself how you will know that you are ready, “Are there any signs that show me that I am ready to take that next step?” Let me start answering this question by telling you a joke.

How many therapists does it need to change a lightbulb?

Just one. But the lightbulb needs to want to be changed!

This joke brings up a point that, I assume, most counsellors will agree with: one of the most important factors for therapy to be working is that the client wants to come and do the work. But are there any other signs?

Signs you're ready to start therapy

1. Feeling something is not quite right

I believe that the first sign is that you notice something is not quite right in your life. You might become aware of something in your body, in your thoughts or in your behaviour that hurts. You cannot point a finger at what it is or what you feel and maybe there is a desire to ignore it.

2. You can't ignore it

The second sign is, that however hard you try, you cannot ignore it. It has a way to crawl back into your awareness, nudging you and saying “Here I am and I’m going to stay!”.

3. You accept whatever it is causing discomfort wants to be addressed 

The third sign is that you accept that whatever it is that is causing you discomfort wants to be addressed, be it loneliness, sadness or a feeling of being trapped, for example. It might still be hard to acknowledge it and to voice it.

4. You start to express your feelings

The fourth sign is that you start to express your feelings, though maybe you find it difficult to trust them.

I believe that somewhere around signs three and four you are ready to go search for a therapist that suits you. There are a few factors that can also indicate that you are ready.

Other factors to consider

Feeling a pull to ask for help

Remembering my own journey of therapy and growth, this was the big one for me: to acknowledge that I cannot do this on my own and to admit to myself that I need help. I used to sort everything out by myself. When I voiced “I need help and support to move forward,” I also recognised that I missed a sense of belonging.

Longing for deeper connections

Human beings are social animals and have an innate need for connection and understanding. Willingness to connect and having the courage to co-create an authentic and honest therapeutic relationship is an indicator that you are ready.

Acknowledgment and embracing of vulnerability

The therapeutic relationship is a safe place for you to explore your thoughts, behaviours, experiences and emotions without judgement. The willingness to be vulnerable and share what happened to you, how you feel and think about yourself with another person, is a clear sign that you are ready for therapy. The readiness to be open and honest is fundamental for your ability to change, thrive and find your own solutions.

Craving authenticity and growth

Feeling stagnant or stuck in your life can be a powerful motivator for seeking therapy. When you find yourself yearning for personal growth and development, for a change in your life, it suggests that you are ready to engage in the therapeutic process and explore your options and potential.

Trust in your capacity for change

When you begin to trust in your own ability to navigate life's challenges and overcome obstacles, it indicates a readiness for therapy. You might have the trust in your capacity to thrive and heal but you do not know exactly where to start. A therapist can support you in your process by creating a safe environment for you to grow.

That you are asking yourself the question “Am I ready for therapy?” shows me that you are.

You read this article because you are looking for someone who supports you. Therapy and being vulnerable might be scary. At the same time you seem to know that by engaging in counselling, you are choosing to invest in yourself, prioritising your well-being and taking an important step towards a more fulfilling life.

Let me support your process of self-discovery that fosters self-compassion and empowers you to make conscious choices and enact meaningful changes in your life. Email or text me if you have any questions.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW1W & W5
Written by Hanna Bohrisch, Counsellor for Women in SW1, online, for Walk & Talk in W5
London SW1W & W5

I am a person-centred counsellor in London and offer walk and talk, online and in-person therapy. I am creating a safe space for your voice to be heard and facilitate your growth through a genuine connection.

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